This is the time to accelerate as much as possible.
At long last, the city of Decatur is making progress with the demolition of dilapidated houses, even as the list of homes needing to be demolished continues to grow.
The ongoing battle with a growing demolition list backlog is one the city has faced for the last several years. The Herald & Review in 2017 reported in a two-part series on the city’s demolition list and backlog of properties. At that time, there were over 100 potential demolition cases and city council members pledged to make the demolitions a priority.
Records obtained by the Herald & Review show a total of 89 blighted properties have been added to the list this year. But the city is putting some dents in the list. In the last four years, the city has demolished 56 properties, 26 of which were torn down this year.
As of July 2019, the backlog has close to 200 properties awaiting demolition.
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The progress has been excellent, and we're pleased at seeing properties properly being added to the list and seeing more being taken off as they're torn down.
The cost per house is about $15,000. Those costs are high because of the frequency of a need for asbestos removal. The present demolitions have been funded through a state grant. While the city is likely to use some funding from philanthropist Howard Buffett (thank you again, sir) for further demolitions, although that has yet to begin.
We’re grateful for the city staff, who are shepherding these things through a legal process, which can be complex and lengthy. We hope they’re thoughtful about the next steps in the neighborhood revitalization and that they’ll find a way to promote uses for the vacant lots where the houses once stood.
It’s very unfortunate that neighbors have been forced to live next to these dangerous eyesores for years. Abandoned houses have been used as drug houses or shelters for squatters. Some are overrun by vermin who eventually turn bold enough to begin exploring more of the neighborhood.
The problem belongs to all of us. Seeing it being dealt with is a positive for the city.