The first home targeted under the project, a bungalow in the 200 block of Harvard Avenue, has been vacant for eight years. The abandoned properties, many of them bank foreclosures, fell into disrepair, making it virtually impossible to sell them.

“These homes really do affect the quality of life,” said Borough Commissioner Rob Lewandowski.

Collingswood officials and representatives from St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society plan to rehabilitate 40 abandoned properties in the borough.

The first home, located on Harvard Avenue, has been vacant for eight years. “This is our chance to start reversing the tide.” Like many communities around the country, Collingswood was hard-hit by the recession.

“It weighs everything down.” Collingswood has gained the rights to a handful of properties over the last 18 months with a court order through the state’s Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, which allows municipalities to seize control of abandoned properties.

The municipality must devise a plan to rehab each property and put it on the market . Joseph’s Carpenter Society will complete the renovations.

Kim Doyle and Lisa Holian traveled from Pennsylvania to Collingswood for their ceremony, and will hold "a big reception in May" to celebrate, Doyle said."Collingswood has been just wonderful," she said.

"I didn't think it was going to happen this quickly."During the first week that same-sex marriage has been legal in the state of New Jersey, Collingswood Patch is talking to couples in the borough who are among the first to wed.

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"We hope that this summer, the entire [exterior] will be painted, although we don't have the money to remove the siding from the other three sides," the commissioner says.

Leonard heads up a group of about 25 volunteers raising money and pitching in to do the work, which began late in 2012.

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