By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A former Bluefield resident who now lives in Princeton donated a house and lot that she owns to the city of Bluefield rather than invest the money it would require to fix it up to make it livable.
“The house was gifted to my husband and I by one of his cousins,” Betty Jo Cooper said. “We thought we would be able to do something with it if we had the money. We thought about making it into a youth center, but it would have been a lot of expense.”
The property is located at 917 Raleigh Terrace, an area where some of the city’s leading citizens resided. For example, in 1906, Hugh Ike Shott, the founding editor/publisher of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph lived at 511 Raleigh Terrace. At that time, the newspaper was located at the corner of Bland Street and McCulloch Avenue.
Cooper said that after trying other possibilities, she thought it would be best to give the property to the city so it can be demolished.
On his final day as Bluefield city manager, Jim Ferguson said the property will be put on the list of structures in the city due to be demolished. “Ms. Cooper’s property sets back from the street and there are a lot of steps to get up to it. It would be difficult to fix it up and make it livable again.”
Ferguson said that the city doesn’t have a timetable for its demolition program. “Gerald Steele takes care of that and does a great job in keeping that project going,” Ferguson said.
“The number one thing that holds up the demolition of derelict or condemned property is establishing ownership, and getting the permission of the resident to remove the structure,” he said. Ferguson said that it is not unusual for property owners to sell a derelict structure for a modest fee, which further complicates the process.
“Maybe if more people would follow Ms. Cooper’s example and donate unwanted derelict properties to the city, the city would have better control of what happens to the property in the city,” he said.
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org