Houses set for demolition
BUCKEYE LAKE – It’s about cleaning up the village – literally.
“People have the right to live in nice neighborhoods,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker. There are at least 40 uninhabitable homes in Buckeye Lake Village slated to be torn down using Licking County grant funding. “We’ll start with that,” he said. Baker said these houses are not only eyesores, but are also unsafe and may attract a bad element to the village. The first house to be removed, located on 2nd Street, will likely be down by March 1. A vacant 6th Street house will soon follow.
Baker said he worked with Licking County Treasurer Mike Smith to track down foreclosed homes in the village. Baker explained that foreclosed homes eventually go to sheriff’s auction to recover back taxes. If they are not sold at sheriff’s auction they are offered to the village to do with as the village sees fit. Baker wants them gone. Once the houses are gone, he plans to keep the empty lots for a while because they are bound to become more valuable thanks to public water and the efforts to get rid of eyesores. Baker said the lots would eventually be sold to developers or possibly turned into “mini parks” for everyone’s use.
Baker said the village would administrate the auctions and have some control over asking someone who doesn’t plan to make a reasonable investment in the properties. He was also clear that only uninhabitable and uninhabited homes would be removed.. If someone is trying to live in the house without permission, “we want to be able to look for housing for these people,” said Baker.
Baker strongly encourages residents to inform the village about homes that could eventually be destroyed, and to contact neighbors and ask if they know of any derelict homes. Looks can be deceiving. Baker said some derelict homes look fairly presentable from outside, but have extremely serious internal structural flaws.
Baker needs to act fast to secure the funding to take down all 40 houses.
Licking County Community Development Manager Warren Weber said Licking County has committed $400,000 of its Neighborhood Stabilization Grant funds to demolish 40 blighted properties in Licking County outside the city of Newark. “We estimated each demolition could cost up to $10,000 each,” he said. “We have until August 31, 2010 to obligate these funds.”
The City of Pataskala and several local townships are also seeking some of the money, said Weber. There may be more Neighborhood Stabilization Act funding available in the future, but he wasn’t certain if or when. “It’s first come, first serve,” said Weber.
Baker said he envisions a separate account for the beautification of the village – to include removal of derelict structures, public landscaping, etc. – that sale of the properties could fund when and if the county’s funding runs dry.
Director of Development Valerie Hans presented a status report on some the the planned demolitions during Monday night’s Village Council meeting.
• 73 Elliott Ave., 355 Union Ave., and 202 Wood Street- Property inspections are being done.
• 42 Sixth Ave.- Licking County is working on resolving IRS tax lien issues on this property before it can be removed.
• 138 Second Street- The property is in a flood plain and a flood plain permit is necessary before the demolition can continue.
• 35 Fifth Street- The property owner agreed to demolition and completing necessary paperwork.
• 1 Ohio Street- The village is working with the property owner to determine which parcel the structure sits upon. It’s a very old tenant farmhouse and records are unclear. As soon as the correct parcel number is determined, the structure will be demolished.
• 11155 Hebron Road- Land owner agreed to demolition. The village is contacting the building owner to complete necessary paperwork.
In other village council news:
• Council members appointed Arletta “Cricket” Ruton to fill the vacancy created by former council member Shelly Small’s resignation when she moved to Hebron. Her term has two years remaining. Former Mayor Frank Foster also applied for the position.
• Buckeye Lake Village Police Capt. James Hanzey told council the department hired a part-time officer to work two nights per week to cover for Officer Bruce Edwards, who will be recovering from surgery, possibly until May.
• Council President Charlene Hayden said the Cranberry Bay Homeowners’ Association has a new public web site, www. cranberrybayhoa.com. Certain areas of the site require a password to access, but there is still plenty of public information, she said. Hayden said the Gateway Project group, which is beautifying entrances to the village, has requested a public web site as well. She said a web site would help the organization collect contributions.