Council President Nicholas DiGregorio said the borough would be forced to pay to demolish the Janess building because the owner, Milton Magness, did not have fire insurance and could not pay for demolition. Darby Shoe Store owner Harris Plotnick is insured, DiGregorio said, and will assume the store's demolition costs.
The vote to condemn the buildings included a motion to authorize demolition work immediately, without putting the project out for bids. Borough solicitor Peter J. Nolan said such action was necessary because the two remaining structures "present an immediate danger to the public." He said the county redevelopment agency may help pay for the demolition and bill the borough at a later date.
Council Vice President Wilbur Smith said he voted to pay for demolition at Janess plumbing only because of the building's hazardous condition.
"I can't see us taking our money and putting it into Janess Plumbing. . . . It just doesn't sit right," Smith said. "He milked the place and he doesn't have fire insurance on his place. There's people just making it in Darby who still pay for insurance."
The borough maintains a $17,400 demolition fund for emergency cases, DiGregorio said, and will put that money toward the demolition.
The borough is seeking additional demolition money from county and federal agencies. Building inspector Thomas Powers said the borough's demolition fund would cover only about one-third of the cost.
At the opening of Wednesday's meeting, Mayor Lewis Saraullo commended borough firefighters, residents and officials for their cooperation during the fire, which began at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
"Something like this makes us seem like a team here in Darby," Saraullo said. "We didn't look at Republicans or Democrats, black or white, we were worried about fighting that fire and saving lives."
The mayor also kicked off a cleanup campaign, dubbed "Darby - The Cleanest Borough in the County."
Each month the cleanest street in the borough will be cited, Saraullo said. Borough businesses have chipped in to offer flowers and lawn materials at a discount, he said, and side streets may be closed to facilitate the cleanup.
Those interested in organizing the cleanup on their streets should call the mayor's office for assistance.