It seems that the City of Scranton will be demolishing an old church and creating a parking lot for a basketball league.
Story Link Here.
Now before I say anything else, I do think that Chris Doherty has done, on balance, a good job as Mayor. Note the word "good". It's a tough job and it's dramatically underpaid (I make more than the Mayor...how on Earth does that make any sense?), so perfection isn't something that is going to come out of this office anytime soon. Then again politics and governing are seldom the things which spawn perfection anyway, but so I digress.
The above noted, I really do have a problem with the city taking this action.
First, while I am sorry that the Diocese of Scranton can't sell this monstrous building, that's not my problem as a taxpayer. When last I checked, the Diocese is run by a bunch of adults (including the often-mentioned here Bishop Joseph Martino) who are generally equipped to handle adult problems. A potential "adult problem" is what to do with property that you want to sell but can't. While I wish the Diocese could sell the church - for example to a growing Protestant denomination full of former Catholics chased out of the Diocese by the Bishop's "Command and Control" leadership style - that issue is above and beyond what taxpayers should be concerned with.
Second, the Mayor's logic, namely that is will become an eyesore so better to deal with it now, is again flawed because it makes the underlying assumption that it's the taxpayers of Scranton who are responsible for dealing with any and all eyesores. It's not. That responsibility lies solely with the owner of the property. The City becomes responsible when and if the owners can't be located or ignore requests to act. Even then, the City could pursue the owners in court to force repayment of the demolition costs.
Third, I have nothing against the Holy Cross basketball league (I've coached at the St Joseph's Girls League) and I do think it would be nice if they got a parking lot. I just happen to think that it should be the owners of the property that provide it.
In the final analysis, this whole episode amounts to a $50,000 + donation on the part of government (Federal money + City labor) to the Diocese of Scranton. While I fully understand that the Diocese of Scranton is in a financial bind, so are many of us. The difference is that I'm not looking for the Federal Government and the City of Scranton to help me deal with one of my problems, and I don't think the Diocese should be either.
This is, quite frankly, wrong.