Owner given another extension

Mar. 26, 2013 @ 07:56 PM

Henderson leaders again took a long look at the issues involved with ordering the demolition of four homes against the owner’s request not to, deciding on Monday to again approve a 90-day delay.

The Henderson City Council also mulled details of a plan to expand the David Street Park, including unrelated demolitions of blighted homes in that area near Main Street.

It is the third delay for 301, 309 and 315 Charles St., and 318 Rowland Ave., owned by Luis Medina, who lives out of state, with the hope that alternatives could be tried to save the homes.

Code Compliance Director Corey Williams reported to the council that Medina, late in the process, submitted a signed agreement with city leaders on proceeding with improvements.

Williams entered into record a forwarded a statement by Medina in which he said that his realty agent, Terry Garrison, also a County Commissioner, was authorized to drop the price on the homes to “improve our odds” on getting them to sell.

“From what Mr. Garrison has informed me, this is a tough market at this time,” Medina stated, adding that a contractor would look after details of landscaping, exterior painting, household repairs and securing the removal of unwanted debris.

Williams said the homes are unlivable and unsanitary.

Garrison, in comments to the council, said he had hopes for the homes because they are sturdy and well built.

“The houses are structurally sound,” Garrison said. “I have just reduced the prices to appeal as an investment opportunity.”

Councilwoman Sara Coffey pressed on the issues of fairness in a situation where there is interest by a homeowner, money is on the table and work is being done, compared to many other blight situations that have no such effort.

“I would be interested in knowing how much he has spent. I am sure the work is not being done for free,” Coffey said. “I have a real uneasy feeling about this. His homes are targeted while other homes are more dilapidated than these and are not on the list. Are we handling these differently?”

Councilman Michael Rainey said he could sympathize with the cause to refurbish and sell.

“It seems to me that they are doing just enough to make the houses presentable and sellable, to satisfy our requirements,” Rainey said.

Williams said the process on Medina’s homes has been going on for several years, and so far, the homes are about 20 percent of the way to code compliance according to his estimations.

A crucial point among council members was the fact the city demolitions list remains long, without additional budget funding to move on demolitions already on the table to be done.

The council approved the motion by Coffey to extend the delay on Medina’s agreement another 90 days, until a review at the July 8 city council meeting.

The council heard from Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department Director Alan Gill on work prospects for the David Street Park if five properties are taken off the city and county’s for sale list and added to the park.

Gill reiterated his department request to expand the David Street Park by adding the lots on the other side of the block from David Street that front Lamb Street to the corner with Main Street.

“We looked at this with our recreation commission advisory board,” Gill said, adding that the full commission gave their unanimous recommendation on March 14.

Mayor Pete O’Geary said he also endorses the idea of using the properties to expand the park.

“It would be a great addition to the park, let me tell you,” O’Geary said.

Gill said there is currently an area with play equipment for younger children, and the expansion would bring an opportunity to consider development of equipment for older children.

It was community development block grant funding that in 2007 built the David Street Park out of three lots cleared of blighted homes.

The added lots would be used for green space at first, then as future play space pending available funding for development, according to Gill.

The matter will be added to a future business meeting of the council for an official vote.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.