If you try really hard, you can almost feel the positiveness of the developers when they named this sacred future hamlet, located in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. The land was purchased for development from Bishop James C. Timlin and named The Sanctuary. But the hulking abandoned shell of what was going to become a townhouse, which is the predominant view in your line of sight when entering this wanna-be housing development, tells a completely different story. This place is like a blank page at the end of the last chapter of a book. The street signs and hydrants may have been erected, but this mostly abandoned development is nothing but an attempted mirage of suburbia. It’s the American Dream gone wrong.
While cruising the desolate and primarily house-free streets, admiring the asphalt roads and empty lots, you realize that this Ghost Development is not entirely dead. One house in the back is obviously occupied, and from another in the front, a dog could be heard yipping away from inside one of the cookie-cutter townhouses.
Yet there are also partially landscaped yards in the process if reverting into scrappy, weed infested spaces, in front of dwellings left half-finished, abandoned and deteriorating.
According to past newspaper reports, The Sanctuary has transformed into one couple’s suburban hell. In an interview from 2009 with the only homeowners living in The Sanctuary at that time, they disclosed that water tainted by a dangerous industry solvent flows beneath their dream house with the cozy fireplace, expensive hardwood floors and spacious kitchen. The homeowners voiced concern about being left with a $400,000 mortgage on a home that was worth considerably less in a stalled housing development. To contribute to their problem, the housing development is linked to figures in one of the biggest scandals ever to rock Luzerne County.
Sanctuary was conceived and developed by W-Cat Inc. Federal prosecutors are very familiar with some of the names associated with that development company. Three of them, former Luzerne County judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and attorney Robert J. Powell, were key figures in what has become known as Kids for Cash, a judicial corruption scandal.
Cheri Sundra © 2014
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