Albany eyesores continue to fall -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany eyesores continue to fall

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Getting rid of dilapidated buildings is a top priority for commissioners.

Over the last four years, nearly 200 buildings have been wiped off the landscape, and code enforcement officers are setting their sights on even more in 2011.

The old Heritage House Hotel. It's ugly, unsafe and unwanted, and it's also a top priority for code enforcement to knock it down this year.

Four years and 184 demolitions later, Albany's code enforcement continues to look for homes and buildings that need to come down. 

 "Every one that we get rid of removes the opportunity for some nefarious activity to occur inside of it and it's absolutely essential that we remove as many as we can as quickly as we can," said Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson.

 On average, about one building a week is torn down. It's a sight Ward One Commissioner Jon Howard is elated to see, especially when it happens on his side of town. 

 "It means that another eyesore in East Albany is coming down," Howard said.

And another danger zone is closed.  Rundown, abandoned buildings often attract vagrants who destroy fences and leave a trail of litter where folks have used this space to access those buildings.

Moving forward in 2011, the city is working to inventory any and all abandoned and dilapidated structures, so as to develop a plan to require more property owners to fix them up or tear them down. 

 "What we're real interested in is those that are vacant and unsecured and people are going in and doing those nasty things,"   said Tilson.

Getting rid of the problem properties improves the safety and the look of the community. Howard says it's brought back a sense of pride to parts of the East side. 

 "It certainly makes you feel good because you are eliminating the criminal element out of your community."

Knocking out crime by knocking down one structure at a time. We hope to report some progress on the Heritage House later this month. A court date has been set for February 23rd on the property. 

 Dilapidated structures aren't the only focus of code enforcement. They've also worked to remove hundreds of junk cars from yards, and have cited thousands of people for high weeds and grass lots.

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