Leader Blues

Friday, November 07, 2008

TOP STORY > >City will tear down seven houses

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Seven asbestos-tainted houses and one foundation in the Sunnyside area of Jacksonville will soon be demolished. Most of the homes were built in the 1940s or earlier and contain asbestos.

All eight properties had previously been condemned by the city and on Thursday night the council approved spending close to $35,000 to have the homes and remains torn down and the contents properly removed.

The council approved a $33,795 bid by Youngblood Excavation and Demolition to do the job. Youngblood was the low bidder among the four companies bidding on the job.

The properties to be demolished under the asbestos removal and demolition bid include 110 North Ave., 127 Galloway Circle, 163 Roosevelt, 183 Pike, 108 Lee, 3034 S. Hwy 161, 105 Lakeshore Dr. and 137 Roosevelt.

The cost of the demolition will be charged to the property owners and if the owners do not or cannot pay the fee, then a tax lien could be placed against the property.

The council Thursday did place more than $46,000 worth of tax liens on various properties throughout the city to cover the city’s cost of mowing the property, cleaning the property or demolishing structures on the lots.

“The law allows us to file a lien against the property,” Mayor Tommy Swaim explained, “and we do this each year near the end of the year if property owners haven’t paid the bill.”

This year the council approved filing liens ranging from $67.98 to $7,436.38 on 80 properties. The liens total $46,773.70. Most of the properties are in the Sunnyside area.

The most expensive liens include $7,436.38 filed against property at 104 Cross St, owned by Leon and Jennifer Brooks; $6,511.46 against 130 Joiner Ave., owned by Glenn Davidson; $6,481.54 filed against 141 North Ave, owned by Marvin and Marva Douglas, $6,225.85 filed against 1116 Sorrells Dr., owned by Jimmie Miller, and $6,086.48 against 128 Central Ave., owned by Jose Ruben Torres.

Other property owners the city has filed liens against include U.S. Mortgage, Veterans Affairs Administration, Pittman and Associates, Washington Mutual and Bank of America.

Once the liens are in place the city will be paid what is owed to it whenever the property is sold.

In other council business:

The council approved the fire department’s request to spend $27,950 from a FEMA grant to purchase a computer simulation package that will allow firefighters to train on a variety of scenarios without risking possible injury or damage to fire equipment.

City Planner Chip McCully, in his monthly report to the city, stated 17 building permits and 11 business licenses were issued during October. He also reported that the engineering department performed 187 inspections during October and sent out more than 100 warning letters to businesses and residences regarding unsightly or unkempt property.

In his monthly report, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the animal shelter took in 144 dogs and 86 cats during October.

The shelter was able to return 29 dogs to their owners and adopted out 52 more dogs and 20 cats. Shelter officials euthanized 43 dogs and 56 cats in October.

Four bite cases were reported in October. Two involved cats, one involved a stray Chihuahua-terrier mix and the other culprit was a cocker spaniel. None of the animals were declared vicious.

The council also accepted the Community Development Block Grant’s 2009 Strategic Action Plan.

Tommy Dupree with Reed’s Bridge Historical Society asked the council to help purchase a half-acre lot and home that is considered part of the Civil War battlefield. But the council tabled any action, concerned of what it considered a high appraisal from the property owner.

The council set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at city hall for annexing church property on Gen. Samuels, east of Hwy. 107. The church has petitioned the city asking to be annexed.

The mayor told the council that Gov. Mike Beebe has declared the day after Christmas a state holiday this year, giving state employees Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off. The mayor said the city usually follows the state lead, but had only listed Christmas Eve and Christmas as holidays for city employees.

The council voted to follow the state and also make the day after a city holiday.