CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
GRANITE SHOALS — Granite Shoals leaders have launched a program to work with property owners to rid the community of dilapidated buildings considered unsafe while sidestepping more costly condemnation proceedings, officials say.
The building removal efforts, a component of the Having Pride in Your Neighborhood Program, goes a step further than just clearing properties of health and safety hazards by also saving taxpayers money spent in court when condemning private properties, said Granite Shoals City Manager Ken Nickel.
“Before, we could have gone to the courts and had (property owners) remove (the structures), but that would have cost us $5,000 to 10,000 for one building,” he said. “Now, we can do six of them within $10,000.”
So far, crews contracting with the city have removed seven structures at three locations, primarily the King streets section, including manufactured homes, sheds and a burned-out trailer.
“They were structures that were about to fall down, windows broken, doors ripped off, roofs collapsed. There is a health issue because with the rain and mold, disease would get in there,” Nickel said. “Transients would sometimes stay in those locations. … Kids have a tendency of going into those buildings. One could have fallen through the floor, and we would have a more dangerous situation.”
To determine eligibility in the city-funded program, code enforcement officers identify vacated properties, track down owners and ask for voluntary participation.
“It’s looking for residents who want to work with us, so we can do it safely and legally. A lot of (the structures) were owned by their parents, and they have not been here for a long period of time or they have just decayed and they could not afford to replace them,” Nickel said. “We bring in our removal (company), and we go from there. It’s a win-win for both the homeowners and the city.”
Business owners and residents have responded well to the program.
“We’ve got better management,” said Ruben Ortego, owner of Super Express Food Mart, 4110 Valley View Lane. “It makes (the community) more respectable. It’s better because one guy sees it and wants to (clean up), too.”
Other components of Having Pride in Your Neighborhood include encouraging residents to post clearly marked addresses on residences to assist with emergency identification and an aggressive effort to remove junk cars.
Code enforcement officers say they have cleared more than two dozen cars this fiscal year.
“It will help clean up the city,” Nickel said of the program. I’m looking forward to seeing our neighborhoods prosper.”
To help the city of Granite Shoals identify unoccupied unsafe buildings, call city hall at (830) 598-5810.