City takes action against abandoned buildings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City takes action against abandoned buildings

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October 2, 2006

Albany--That police shooting spawned renewed calls for the city to do something about rundown, dilapidated houses.

Albany is overrun with condemned houses which are a haven for drug users and other criminals.

Tonight, community leaders met to talk about the problem in one South Albany neighborhood.

Abandoned homes are more than just eyesores for homeowners living in South Albany.

"It just makes the neighborhood look bad," says Gloria Wiggins.  She has called this neighborhood home for more than thirty years.

She says abandoned homes attract crime. "We just had that shooting on Cleveland, that drive by shooting," says Wiggins.

Many of the abandoned properties, including this house in Albany, serve as a safe haven for prostitutes and drug dealers. If you'll look in front of this house, you'll notice plenty of broken glass--an obvious sign someone's been here recently.

"I feel that they are using it for illegal reasons. Why would they go through the trouble to tear the boards off the windows or doors," says Wiggins.

"We're going to come after you." Community Leaders listened carefully tonight as City Manager Alfred Lott laid out his plan to take back Albany's neighborhoods.

"We're going to take efforts ourselves to be more aggressive with citing violations.  We're going to identify and demolish dilapidated houses. We have identified funds for that particular reason," says Lott.

Chief Police James Younger says his officers will also zero in on violators.

"We will be documenting these particular issues, and forwarding the information to the department of enforcement," says Younger.

Until her neighborhood is cleaned up for good, Gloria Wiggins is extra careful when it comes to her safety.

"I'm not out at night, I always get in before it's dark," says Wiggins.

But she says that may all change, once her neighborhood is free from eyesores.

The city will also work with Keep Albany Dougherty County Beautiful to devise plans to reduce the number of dilapidated buildings and overgrown lots throughout the city.

If you know of an overgrown lott or abandoned property in your area, you're asked to call the city's code enforcement agency at 431-3275.

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