UPDATE: Blighted Westmont Borough building deemed a 'safety hazard,' razed after roof caves in

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Jul. 31—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A blighted structure in Westmont Borough was demolished over the weekend due to safety concerns, borough officials said Sunday.

Westmont Borough Council approved the razing of the house at 132 Erie St. soon after a call was placed to emergency officials on July 19 to report that it had started to collapse.

Council President Marc McCall said that the building's roof had partially caved in.

"We deemed it a safety hazard because there was a significant danger to the public," McCall said.

The property was one of several eyesores about which Westmont Borough residents have raised concerns in the past several years.

Cambria County Tax Claim Bureau officials told The Tribune-Democrat in 2020 that the 132 Erie St. property was put up for judicial tax sale in 2019 because the previous owner had not paid taxes on it for years. Nicholas Krowchena, a Philadelphia resident, bought the property for $3,592 at that tax sale, according to county records.

By 2020, the property was up for sale again. It was purchased by Damian Alexander Webb, of Crescent City, California, for $10,000 on Jan. 14, 2021.

In 2020, Amy Hughes, who lived next to 132 Erie St., told the borough council that the house had been abandoned for years, broken glass was visible and animals were living inside.

McCall said that the borough had explored options for the property, but received no response from the property owner, Webb. According to The Tribune-Democrat's archives, the borough also had difficulties communicating with Krowchena about the property when he owned it.

Locher Construction demolished the building for $15,000 of borough funds. McCall said that the borough is looking into avenues to recoup those funds.

McCall added that the borough is seeking grants to fund the demolition of several other dilapidated properties owned by out-of-state residents. He said that addressing blight is one of the priorities of the borough council.

"We will start turning up the heat on homeowners, tenants, landlords that don't uphold our property maintenance standards," he said.