Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 23, 2013

Erasing eyesores

Next round of demolitions slated

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Many of Mercer County’s communities have a problem in common — dilapidated structures that don’t seem to belong to anybody. They are abandoned homes, outbuildings and businesses that are gradually falling apart.

Left unattended, they become eyesores that subtract value from surrounding properties. The structures also become havens for vermin, wild animals, and drug dealers and a hazard for neighborhood children. If these buildings are set on fire, they endanger neighboring homes and the firefighters that must extinguish the blazes.

The cities of Princeton and Bluefield have been addressing this problem by demolishing dilapidated structures. In Princeton, the city code enforcement department recently recorded its 460th demolition. The city hopes to tear down another 50 structures this year and an additional 50 in 2014.

Demolitions are also proceeding in nearby Bluefield where approximately 400 structures on a list of 500 condemned buildings have been torn down since 2004. More buildings are added to the list on a regular basis for possible condemnation.

The structures are sometimes abandoned because their owners died and their heirs do not know about the homes. Some others belong to people who are living out of state and cannot be located. The cities are sometimes able to find the owners and get them to fund the demolitions.

In other cases, the cities fund the demolitions through grants or budget money for them.

Both of the city programs are positive steps for economic development. Removing blighted structures improves appearances and local property values. Decaying structures send a negative message when businesses are seeking new locations and residents are looking for new homes, so demolishing them is a worthwhile cause.

The demolitions enhance the quality of life in every neighborhood. Each demolition removes potential rat nests, fire hazards and locations where drug dealers could conduct their business. Removing the eyesores make neighborhoods look better, too, and gives residents reason to take more pride in their community. It is a sign of progress.

Both Princeton and Bluefield should be commended for continuing their demolition programs.

They are literally cleaning up their neighborhoods, moving economic development forward and enhancing the area’s quality of life.

Erasing eyesores will help both cities get ahead and clear the way for the future.