If you ever have a chance to talk to Mayor Michael Lombardo, you’ll notice the love he has for the City of Pittston, which he once again now heads, is infectious. Next time you see him on the street, just ask him what’s new.
Fair warning: if you do stop him, be prepared to put 30 minutes aside while he talks about the great things coming to the city he governs. It’s refreshing to see the passion and compassion he has for Pittston.
When you walk away from your conversation with the mayor, the first thing you will ask yourself is, “When does this guy’s mind shut off for the day?” You might have to ask his wife Susan for that answer.
Every so often, I like to check in with Mayor Lombardo for several reasons. First and foremost, I enjoy being in his company. I found out years ago, Mike is a very approachable guy and he’s not only willing to talk to you, he’s also willing to listen.
Secondly, I’ve always enjoyed his upbeat disposition; it’s very contagious. That’s evident by all those who surround him. He rubs off on people.
Another positive point about the mayor is he spends every waking moment on vision for the future, whether that vision is for himself and his family or for the City of Pittston.
Mike is the kind of guy you’d want as a best friend or, at the very least, someone to have lunch with.
That said, the mayor and I spoke about some changes to the city and downtown.
The LCCC building project is about five weeks ahead of the scheduled May deadline to turn the building over to the college. Lombardo is hoping LCCC could start utilizing the building for summer school classes instead of waiting until the fall semester.
Town Hall on Broad Street is getting a makeover — inside and out. The project is in Phase III with Phase One being energy savings. Phase II was accessibility with the addition of an elevator. The last phase includes rehabbing the bathrooms, shuffling offices around and giving a fresh look to the outside of the building.
The biggest change will affect the police department. In the past, everyone passed through the front doors, including those involved in criminal arrests and hearings. A new entrance will be from the rear of the building into the lower level equipped with a holding area, a cell, and a conference room accessible to everyone in City Hall.
Over the past few months, the downtown has had some changes. Gone are a few businesses that will be replaced with newer ones. The mayor is saddened by the loss of businesses that have left but looks forward to new businesses coming into town.
The gift shop housed on the street level under Cawley Rehab across from Fino’s Pharmacy will be taken over by Bayada Nurses which will open a pediatrics operation. That block is shaping up to be a medical district with Geisinger’s two buildings, two pharmacies, a podiatry office, a dentist, and an ophthalmologist.
In that same block, Fuji restaurant will relocate to 107 S. Main St. In 2000, the Pittston Redevelopment purchased the building for rehab and eventually sold it. It will have five high-end luxury loft apartments on the upper floors with Fuji anchoring the first floor with its 20-foot ceilings.
Look for another restaurant, yet to be officially named, to move into the former Fuji spot in the near future. From what I understand, Pittstonians will be excited to hear what it will be.
The As Seen as Art store said good-bye at the end of 2017 and the new Art Effects, housing a co-op gallery doubling the space, includes a photo studio, which will maintain the artsy edge for that section of Main Street.
For all of you Art Walk lovers, there will be two more walks planned; one will happen during August and the second will be added at the end of the schedule in October, dovetailing with Paint Pittston Pink. The August Art Walk was previously tabled due to the activities of the Tomato Festival. All Art Walks will take place on the second Friday of each month. Sixty to 70 artists have been contacted for 2018, upping the numbers from previous years.
In the past, I’ve mentioned a Jazz Festival coming to Pittston. That is still true but, without a main stage, it’s pointless right now. The good news is, a grant has been received to construct a permanent stage attached to the Zarra building on the upper Tomato Festival lot. Once that is completed, plans can move forward for the Jazz Fest.
I’ll bring you more news on Pittston’s metamorphosis in next week’s column. In the meantime, get ready for the Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade set for noon Saturday, March 3.
How about 76 degrees?
To all winter lovers — sorry to see a bit of a break from cold temps, sleet and snow, but man, how about this past Thursday? I was tied up in the morning and didn’t get out of my house until 1 p.m. but, when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually forgot what warm weather felt like. Take that, groundhog!
Quote of the week
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou, American poet
Thought of the week
“… for every disability you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges.” – Nick Vujicic, motivational speaker
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” – John Henry Newman, English cardinal
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.