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Looking to cleanup eyesores

At Thursday night’s Ironton City Council meeting, Mayor Rich Blankenship asked members to consider a different method to expedite the demolition of the city’s blighted properties.

Blankenship said currently there are about 10 property owners who want to take advantage of the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant program launched by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office last year.

The grant provides a 100 percent reimbursement from the State of Ohio, Blankenship said, but the city must pay for the demolition up front. Since the city got its approximately $133,000 grant in August, only about three homes have been demolished.

“It’s going to take awhile doing it the way we are doing it because we don’t have that type of money to do it,” Blankenship said. “It’s going to drag out for a long time and I’d like to get some of these houses down.”

The money for the dilapidated homes comes from the city’s demolition fund, which keeps about $20,000 in its coffers.

Once a home is tested for asbestos and torn down, the city must wait for the state’s reimbursement to continue on with more homes.

Blankenship said the process is too slow and asked council to consider getting an estimate on how much it would cost to tear down the other 10 homes at once and take out a loan.

“I would be in favor of doing whatever we could,” said Councilman Kevin Waldo. “If we have to get a loan to do it, I would like to look into that.”

Finance director Kristen Martin said the money could be borrowed from the city itself through an intergovernmental loan. The money would be replaced once the reimbursement was returned from the state.

Blankenship also encouraged people who own dilapidated properties to start the process to demolish the structure by contacting the city sooner rather than later.

“This is perfect for folks who do not have the money themselves to do it,” Blankenship said.

The process begins with the property owner filling out the paper work with the city. The city then must send out bids for the asbestos testing and demolition.

The city can also condemn structures and send letters to the property owners, but when the property owners do not live in the area, or if the properties are owned by banks in another state, the process slows down even more.

“It’s not just a one-day process,” Blankenship said.