Plans being considered by Granite Ridge for housing illegal immigrants in downtown North East present our community with a problem. The recent meetings in both the borough and the township made it abundantly clear the idea is extremely unpopular, but without an opportunity to question representatives from Granite Ridge or the Ehrenfeld Companies, the meetings offered little in the way of solutions.
While we missed our best opportunity to deal with this issue when the property sold to an out of town developer who, it appears, misrepresented their intentions, we may be able to recover, but it will take a good deal of effort.
Likely the biggest hurdle Mercyhurst encountered when selling the property was their desire to sell it as a single parcel. It greatly reduced the pool of potential buyers because not only did they need the wherewithal the make the purchase, but they also needed a plan for making it work going forward. It’s unclear if the current owners had a viable, well thought out plan or simply one that sounded good to local officials with sports clinics and all that. Their real plan may have included government contracts for illegal immigrants all along, but no one outside of their company can say for sure.
Since the disclosure of these plans, it’s fair to say the reputation of Granite Ridge has taken a tremendous hit in the North East community and everything related to the property is now viewed with suspicion. Granite Ridge is now in the position of having to justify going forward with what is clearly an adversarial project, one at odds not only with the community, but with resistance from local officials and legislators as well, yet if they have no other real plans, what else can they do?
A possible solution
At this point, the owners of Granite Ridge may be having a bit of buyer’s remorse, they bought something that didn’t work out as planned. If there was some way to unload the property as a piece, walking away without further confrontation and risk of loss, would they?
Is there a way for an individual, a group of individuals, a company, an organization or some combination of the above to pool their resources and offer to buy back the entire property from Granite Ridge? There are more potential members in this area in that group than some might think and community members of long standing who care about North East could decide to take back this jewel in our midst and protect it by ensuring development in line with and complementary to our community’s best interests. Once purchased, the parcel could be subdivided and then resold to smaller developers able to make the most of each part, again, complementing the character of the North East community.
Granite Ridge would have the opportunity to end their involvement on a positive note, recognizing and being receptive to the wishes of the North East community that we would hope they have no wish to intentionally work against.
Those in the community willing and able to step up would be playing a major role ensuring North East moves forward in a positive direction able to keep its small town America character and, yes, these benefactors would gain eternal appreciation from the entire community as everyone would recognize what they had done and now made possible. Those able to participate on the smaller scale of the subdivided properties would also become contributors to our community’s well-being. Everyone wins.
Can this be done? Of course it can. Will it be done? Let’s find out.