Committee Hears Update On Demolition, Condemned List
In recent years, there has been roughly around 100 condemned properties in the city at all times.
That is what Vince DeJoy, city development director, told the Jamestown City Council Housing Committee this week while presenting a condemned properties and a priority demolition list report. He said even with many demolitions having taken place during the last couple years, the city still has basically the same number of condemned houses because more just come online.
DeJoy said any city resident can visit the city’s website, jamestownny.net, to look at the list of condemned houses in the city. He said the main way city code enforcement officials learn about condemned houses is through neighbor complaints. He added that when a condemned and vacant house is identified, the city will board it up to prevent criminal activities.
DeJoy also provided the priority demolition list for this year to the committee. He said there are seven residential and three commercial properties on the list. Residential properties include 392-394 Falconer St.; 42 Eagle St.; 152 Buffalo St.; 206 Charles St.; 11 Norwood Ave.; and 867 and 869 Spring Street. The commercial properties include 24 N. Main St.; 8 E. Second St.; and 771 E. Second St.
DeJoy said the demolition list could be longer, but the city doesn’t have the funds available to do more. It averages around $25,000 to demolish a condemned house, DeJoy said.
“It is all dollars-and-cents to us,” he said.
DeJoy said they will be using federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funding for the demolitions that will be done this year. He said during the past couple years they have been able to do more demolitions thanks to funding assistance from the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. However, he said the land bank doesn’t have the same amount of funding for demolitions this year that they’ve had in the past to assist the city.
Vanessa Weinert, At-Large councilwoman, referenced that Youngstown, Ohio, uses a scoring system to determine what houses get demolished first and asked if the city uses a scoring system. DeJoy said city officials create a priority list using factors like safety factors and if all means have been exhausted through the court system to find someone who could be held financially responsible for the demolition of a condemned house. He said city officials could possibly look at a scoring mechanism in the future to determine the houses that should be demolished first, but currently he bases it on the experience of code enforcement officials.
In other Housing Committee business, the committee also discussed creating a survey to find out more details about the current state of housing throughout the city. Weinert said they need to know the scope of the situation, what the community thinks are the biggest concerns and what is perception versus reality when it comes to housing issues. She said they should create two surveys — one for organizations working on housing issues and another for city residents.
Victoria James, Ward 3 councilwoman and Housing Committee chairwoman, suggested that the committee create questions for the survey and continue the survey discussing next month with the list of possible questions.