Demolition project nearing completion
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – A $250,000 project to demolish nuisance properties around the city is nearing completion.

About 40 structures, mainly residential, have been torn down using funds from a Community Development Block Grant awarded last year through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

After an extensive process of selection, owner notification and hearings, demolition began in September, and more properties stand to be added. A complete list of structures that have been demolished was not available from the city or from Monroe and Associates LLC, which is managing the project. Gerald Pearson Construction out of Jasper is handling demolition.

About $70,000 remains in the project, which they hope to have completed by June, said Susan Monroe of Monroe and Associates.

“We’ve taken down a lot of houses so far, but we’re working to identify a few more and spend what’s left of our money to make sure we get everything done that we can while we have this opportunity,” she said. “We’re not going to hunt for structures that don’t need demolition just to use up the money, but as long as there are houses left that need it, and we are having some people come forward who actually want houses down, so those will be added.”

The structures that have been torn down were inspected by demolition manager Jim Lanier and other city officials and certified as nuisances that were not economically feasible to repair. They generally exhibited long-term neglect and were not structurally sound. Homeowners do have the option to show they have secured the structure or are actively repairing it if they wish to be removed from the demolition list, but only a few did in this case, Monroe said.

While she has not personally worked in the field, Monroe said Lanier and the contractors have reported positive feedback from the community throughout the project.

“We have not really had any property owners upset about the fact that they’ve been slated for this project,” she said. “Very few have come to the hearings regarding their properties, and pretty much everyone acknowledges there’s a problem with these structures.”

Nuisance properties are a top complaint city officials receive, Monroe said.

“I have worked for cities all over state and one of the No. 1 problems city officials deal with are complaints about nuisance structures,” she said. “Nobody wants to live next to that mess, and besides it being an unpleasant view, it lowers the neighbors’ property value and attracts crime.”

She said this type of demolition project has been the best one for cities since it became eligible for CDBG grants about five years ago.

“It’s not an easy project,” Monroe said. “There are a lot of people involved and work that has to be done, but it has the most positive impact on the highest number of people of any CDBG activity I’ve done in the state.”

CDBG grants are also typically used for public infrastructure, housing, property acquisition and other public services. Childersburg is currently carrying out its own CDBG demolition project.

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© 2013