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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Carbondale is Dying

As was reported this past week by the Scranton Times, Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale is closing.  You can read the press release HERE.

What's left?  With a "major" employer is considered to have about 75 employees, then you have to wonder about the health of a community.  In case the case of Carbondale, the community health has been on life support for decades.  Whereas many communities in NEPA (such as Wilkes-Barre and Scranton) managed to survive the death of the hard coal industry, it seems that Carbondale never quite found a replacement and has slowly been decaying these past 40-50-60 years.  Since then it has been a steady stream of businesses leaving, population dropping, and schools closing.

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this does raise an interesting question:  should anything be done to hasten the demise?  By asking the question, I'm basically saying that Carbondale, as a municipality, is beyond saving.  There simply isn't anything there and outside of a dramatic reversal, say at the hands of gas drilling (unlikely at best), nothing is likely to change.  Should a community in this condition have the option of going through what amounts to in the business world as a bankruptcy and liquidation?  Even that's a bad analogy, as a bankrupt business typically has at least some assets of value; the case of a municipality, there are few real assets (outside of some city-owned real estate, perhaps).  The problem though is that running the city of Carbondale will require more and more in the way of a smaller and smaller tax base., so at some point in time the math simply no longer works.  Hell, the math may have stopped working a long time ago.

Maybe what I am referring to is some kind of dis-incorporation, whereby the city of Carbondale simply ceases to exist, and it is instead folded some other legal body.  Services are re-aligned or changed.  The police force becomes regionalized with the surrounding communities.  Fire protection is modified to fit the tax base. Things have to change.

I realize that the above sounds  It is as if we (or more correctly the residents of Carbondale) were somehow beaten, and we Americans hate to lose.  But this is a loss never the less and it's time to face reality.  There will be no big factories built.  There will be no casino.  There will be no mass infusion of federal or state money.  There will only be further shrinking of the tax base.  There will be more decay.

Next up (withing a few days):  Scranton.

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