Property Purchase Will Result in New County Office Building

This building situated along Route 92, southeast of Tunkhannock, will become home to some Wyoming County services that are now operating out of a building on the Hunter Highway.

Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk

(Exclusive to readers)

During a work session held on March 24, the Wyoming County Commissioners announced that the county is wrapping up the purchase of a piece of property and two buildings previously owned by the state. The parcel on Route 92 in Tunkhannock Township will become the new home to offices currently situated in the Robinson Building along Route 29 in Eaton Township.

The project is the third of three to be financed via a surplus of $3-million the county recorded in October 2021 when two bond issues were consolidated into a single bank loan. ( Some of the money was used to shore up the county’s pension fund, and another portion was used to buy out some contracts of union employees in positions that were no longer viable.

The commissioners have been working on ways to get out of the Robinson Building, which has long suffered from maintenance issues, for at least the past two years. Initially, they had hoped to purchase the Mill City Elementary School building, but the window of opportunity to accept bids closed before the newly elected commissioners had been sworn in and could act upon it. There was also some consideration of constructing a new office building near the 911 Center, but that proved too costly.

We’re kind of excited about it,” said commissioner chair Rick Wilbur, who noted that space is also severely limited in the Robinson building. “It was difficult to separate people during the pandemic. Some people had to work from home and couldn’t work in the office, where they were on top of each other.”

The larger of the two buildings to be purchased once served as the Tunkhannock Office of the PA Department of Agriculture, which has since relocated to Hollow Crest Road. When it appeared that the state no longer had a use for the building, the commissioners offered a dollar for it, which was rejected.

We started negotiating,” Wilbur related. “Karen Boback was a big help. She lobbied for us.” The county was put on a waiting list for a year to make sure that no other agency in Pennsylvania wanted the buildings. It was previously appraised at $305,000, but depreciation led to a compromise bid of $125,000, which was accepted.

The smaller of the two buildings is flood prone and has not been used since the flooding of 2011. It will be demolished to make room for a parking lot for the new facility. An addition is planned that will become home to one of the county’s two magisterial justices. Other departments to move there from Eaton Township include Children & Youth Services, Domestic Relations, and the Wyoming County Food Pantry.

It will save us lots of money,” said commissioner Tom Henry. “There’s a lot of space to be used there.

With a little bit of remodeling, we should be able to make it work.”

It’s actually in great shape on the inside,” Wilbur stated, noting that the commissioners toured the building with associates from Milnes Engineering. “We were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the building when we walked through it. It does need some tender loving care on the outside.”

The unanimous approval by the commissioners (Ernie King via phone) will lead to a vote by the PA House of Representatives next week. Once the deal is officially approved, the county will take action immediately, though it will likely take a year to complete the remodeling and move everyone in.

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