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March 21, 2013

City demolishes abandoned homes

Gainesville — Recent demolitions resulting in city improvement inspired a special presentation during Tuesday’s Gainesville City Council meeting.

Community Development Director John Noblitt discussed the razing of substandard local housing and Public Services Director Ron Sellman detailed the recent complete tear-down of the historic Gainesville Middle School building on North Denton Street.

Noblitt said 11 substandard houses in city limits are now gone and 16 more are scheduled to be gone — demolished by either the public services department or third-party contractors. The cost of demolishing each structure is an estimated $4,300.

Noblitt presented a slideshow of some of the houses, many of which have severe structural issues or have been long left vacant and weathered.

“These have all been eyesores,” he said. “We just have not had the ability to be aggressive with it in the past.”

During the spring and summer months, Noblitt added, another 37 Gainesville properties will come under review for code adherence.

“We think it’s making a huge impact,” he said.

Aside from civic cleanup, officials have also described the razing of those old properties as a law enforcement measure. In October, Mayor Jim Goldsworthy told Rotary Club members some of the structures have been long favored by the local drug subculture.

“Things on the government side of what we do with the city never happen fast enough for me,” Goldsworthy said in October. “When I see a house that’s dilapidated, I want to tear it down. But there’s channels we’ve got to go through and, before, they took way too long.”

During the same club meeting, Goldsworthy said many property owners can’t afford to repair their dilapidated houses or tear them down.

But because of a city budget made healthier by increased tax revenue, the city can afford to demolish the houses and then relinquish the lot to the owner if possible.

Goldsworthy added that in total, the city probably includes 200 houses in need of tear-down.

“The more sales tax revenue we bring in, the more we’ll be able to clean the town up,” he said.

Sellman’s Tuesday report of the Gainesville Middle School demolition included details that processing of the waste material began in July and occurred on and off through February. Workers among several city departments removed more than 13,000 tons of waste and managed to recycle 4,000 tons.

Through methods of recycling, he said, the city managed to save almost $224,000 in landfill fees through the job’s duration.

And with the city having cleared away the 3.65-acre site, developers now have the allotted area for a proposed new Cooke County Boys & Girls facility.

“We spent a lot of time on it but we had to go through other jobs, so when we had time allowed, we got it all done,” Sellman said. “It’s now a clean site.”

 

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