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Ironton council turns focus to demolition of condemned homes

Ironton council members will likely spend this fiscal year’s allotment of state community development funding on demolition of condemned houses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Ironton council members will likely spend this fiscal year’s allotment of state community development funding on demolition of condemned houses.

Council’s Finance Committee met Monday to discuss the annual allocation of Community Development Block Grant formula money, sponsoring legislation that calls for most of that CDBG funding be spent on spot clearing of condemned structures.

Each year, the city gets an amount of money that’s not tied into the competitive grant process. City officials must decide how to spend the money, which will become available by about January 2002.

This year’s allocation is about $83,000, said Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization which has administered the CDBG program in the past.

During past years, most of the money had been committed to parking projects so there is more this year for new projects, Kline said.

The committee considered a tentative list, which included $40,000 for paving and about $27,600 for clearance of condemned structures, as well as $3,000 required for fair housing programs and $12,400 for administrative costs.

The city must hold a public hearing and take comments before a final spending plan can be approved. And, it must enter into an agreement with an administrator.

Finance committee members discussed the number of condemned properties, talking with city code enforcement officer Karl Wentz. The committee agreed there is a pressing need to rid the city of eyesores that number into the dozens.

"I think what several of us are saying is what if we primarily decide to use this money for demolition?" said councilman and committee chair Jim Tordiff.

The committee and Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary agreed, adding that the city has just come off of a big paving project year.

"We need to tell the people we’re getting serious," councilman and committee member Leo Ulery said.

The tentative plan is to use about $67,600 in CDBG money to clear condemned structures owned by low to moderate income owners. The city also can clear other properties, then seek tax liens to recover demolition costs. That process could start a "revolving" fund for future demolition projects, the committee said.

Legislation on using the CDBG formula money will come before the full council for final approval.