GIRARDVILLE - A building on East Main Street in Girardville is close to a partial collapse, with the borough attempting to gain ownership in order to remove the entire three-story vacant structure.

The building, located at 13-15 E. Main St. and owned by Terrence and Claudette Hodge, is also a hazard to two neighboring properties to the west - Centiole's Pizza, at 1 E. Main St., which is also the residence of owner Mariette Centiole, and another business, Vanity Boutique, 9 E. Main St., owned by Centiole's daughter, Kathy Centiole-Martone, which is located next to the Hodge building. The borough has barricaded the building front with wooden horses to prevent pedestrians from walking by and vehicles from parking. Snow piled around the horses after the recent storm also reduces accessibility.

According to Mayor Edward Burns, the front facade began leaning forward before last week's snow. The third floor's west wall also buckled inward. Snow can be seen on the inside windows and is adding more weight-related stress to the structure. In addition to dangers to other building, utility lines and a utility pole are also in danger of being hit by the front facade, which could interrupt electrical and other utility services to residents and businesses.

Burns said he and borough council want the dangerous eyesore removed, with the borough pursuing a process called conservatorship in order to gain ownership through legal means.

During borough council's Nov. 8 meeting, borough solicitor Christopher Riedlinger introduced the idea of gaining ownership by petitioning the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas. The petition would ask the court for judicial approval to demolish the structure by being granted 'powers of attorney' over the property through a state conservatorship statute. The inability by the borough to contact the owners and the building's hazardous condition prompted this course of action by borough council.

"The borough has to go the legal route," said Burns. "We have found another possible address of the owner in New Jersey, so we're pursuing that."