Council's actions benefit community

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Three cheers (or more) for the Sikeston City Council which this week decided to take decisive and immediate action to remove over 100 condemned structures that have been eyesores and health issues for way too long. And if the aggressive council action gets under way immediately, these problem properties could be history within six months or less.

Can you imagine the positive impact that we could witness by next spring if these 106 decaying properties are removed? It could restore pride in the neighborhoods where these houses are located and would remove a health and safety issue that has long plagued our community.

As reported in our newspaper last week, the city has a list of 186 problem properties that are either far too gone to repair or have some small potential for rehabilitation. So the Council took that list and examined each property. When the dust had settled this week, the Council agreed that 106 of those structures pose a health and safety issue.

By making that declaration, the Council can accelerate the process of removal. The largest problem that has faced our Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority is the slow time frame to notify owners of the homes and then meander through the legal process at a snail's pace.

But the Council did what has long been needed and declared these structures as health hazards for the entire community. That means the process of removal can begin immediately.

It will cost approximately $500,000 to remove these properties. And that will be money well spent. But the Council is also considering filing suit against the owners to have them bear the cost of removal. That may prove difficult in the long run but regardless, the properties must disappear.

Few areas are as critical in Sikeston right now as housing. Years of neglect by past administrations have left us with a huge stockpile of discarded properties. They are too costly to repair and, in many cases, the owners have simply walked away from the problem. That has left entire neighborhoods struggling with eyesores just next door. It's unfair to those neighborhoods and it brings additional deterioration in the surrounding area.

As it now stands, that will leave 80 properties that are teetering on the brink of joining that list. Unless someone can find a way to improve these structures that makes financial sense, these 80 may soon join the other 106 on they city's target list.

We are at long last getting a handle on the housing issue in Sikeston. And the Council's actions this week mark a major turning point in that journey.

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