Blighted homes going down

Dec. 25, 2012 @ 06:57 PM

The City of Henderson will get to work soon after New Year’s Day on a long-standing resolution.

With $49,000 in funding available, about a dozen blighted homes are coming down.

Corey Williams, the code compliance director for the city, said each demolition project includes cleanup, including hazardous materials. He said organizing and funding the projects is not simple.

According to city code compliance documents detailing the properties and demolition projects, the homes may be in one of several categories: specific hazards dangerous to the public, unsecured and collapsing, or close to each other in a manner that is “paralyzing the neighborhood of potential growth.”

Williams said detriments to the public include how the properties become a magnet for crime, adding he is ready to see them torn down. Not all the details are in place yet with contractors.

“We are working on details, standard procedure stuff,” Williams said. “It will probably be the first of the year, I anticipate mid-January, that we will see some work done on those.”

Contractor bids are in, and enumerated costs level out at $48,030, Williams said. That seems to leave nearly $1,000 left over, but the budget is also taxed by city work needed to clean and maintain blighted lots.

“Cleanup work has cut into the budget, a lot of weeding and so forth,” he said. “I don’t have a certain time yet for beginning, but I know we’ll be doing some of that work. We will maximize this budget and do as much as we can.”

Structures for demolition include 1048 Williams; 250 Lowry; 849, 884 and 913 Lamb; 228 and 302 Main; 701 Flint; 707 and 710 Marshall; 447 Winder; 705 Jefferson; and 587 Beckford.

There are three more properties on the short list for demolitions: 425 and 427 Garnett and 416 Parham streets. The addresses are yet to be contracted and there is no designated budget left for them.

Williams said it is possible for the city’s demolition budget to get a marginal refund from Vance County. Five of the properties that are coming down are tax foreclosure properties, jointly owned by the city and the county.

That joint ownership means Vance is liable for $11,344 in demolition cost of those homes. If county funds transfer to the city soon enough, the Garnett and Parham properties may get contracted and put on the list for demolitions before July 2013 (the start of the new fiscal year).

Otherwise, they’ll await the fiscal year 2014 funding cycle, Williams said.

Henderson City Manager Ray Griffin in a memo to the council stated that city leaders originally hoped to put a larger agenda of demolitions forward through an anti-crime infrastructure grant for which the Henderson Police Department applied.

The city’s strategy was to wait for that grant funding opportunity decision before spending their smaller fiscal 2013 demolition budget for some work, hoping that more could be done if all at once.

Williams said that a consideration that favors doing what can be done now, instead of waiting for a future grant funding opportunity, is the city’s cost of maintaining abandoned structure lots on the list for demolition.

The police grant fund was not approved, according to Griffin.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.