City to raze 7 more homes

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Homes at 907, left and 905 W. 2nd Street are two of several homes "planned" for demolition in bids awarded by the City of Owensboro.

Seven more homes across the community will soon become memories after they’re demolished as part of the city’s ongoing initiative to remove blighted structures from neighborhoods.

According to Wayne Shelton, the city’s public works director, this will bring the total number of razed residential properties to 22 for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“These seven will be the last planned demolitions,” Shelton said. “We always try to maintain a small balance in the account in case we have an emergency demolition.”

The seven homes slated to be razed are located at 904 Elsmere St., 908 Elsmere St., 1214 W. First St., 905 W. Second St., 907 W. Second St., 417 E. Fourth St. and 1915 E. 17th St. The city awarded TA Gaddis Services one site, Redline Contracting three sites and Murphy Excavating three sites to raze.

The city budgeted $150,000 for 2019-20, which was an increase from $63,078 from the previous fiscal year. In 2018, the city demolished seven homes, six in 2017, four in 2016 and six in 2015.

Shelton said the cost per demolition varies with size, type and environmental hazards such as lead paint and asbestos.

“Each house has its own unique set of circumstances we have to address,” he said. “… On average, it costs in the neighborhood of $10,000 to demolish a house.”

The homes have usually been deemed abandoned or unsafe for occupancy. But before the homes can be taken down, they go through a lengthy legal process.

Properties proposed for demolition are usually brought to the city attorney first, and then taken to the Property Maintenance Board. If the board agrees to raze a structure, a title search is done on the property to find the true owner.

“It's not let’s go demo that one; it’s trying to work with owners or lack of owners. It’s determining the state or condition of the property and whether it could be rehabbed or not,” Shelton said.

The city will receive calls about unsightly properties that the public believes need to be razed.

And earlier this year, the city hired a second full-time property maintenance code inspector along with a part-time clerk to help field the numerous complaints the office receives.

And if the properties are still viable, Shelton said the city tries to work with the owners to clean them up or make the necessary repairs.

“Our property maintenance is about compliance and getting people to comply with this community’s standards and norms,” Shelton said. “We strive to work with folks and help them work through the process as long as we’re seeing improvement.”

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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