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Derelict Homes to be Demolished

14 homes around Wichita Falls will be torn down after City Councilors award two bids, totaling more than $50,000, to demolish the structures.
Dirty. Dingy. Dilapidated. Dangerous.

Those are just some of the words used to describe a total of 14 homes around Wichita Falls which won't be standing much longer.

"Those are homes that have been abandoned," said Mayor Glenn Barham, "and they've become a danger, not only to the residents in the area, but to anybody that might be passing through."

City councilor's voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with the demolition process, but that doesn't mean the homeowners didn't have a chance to stop it.

Once a house is designated for demolition, the City gives the homeowner about 90 days to either fix the home, or tear it down themselves.

"If that does not take place, then we'll put it out to bid and the lowest bidder gets the job," said Assistant Director of Community Development Bobby Teague, "they do the demolition, and then we'll put a lien on the property for the amount of that demolition."

In addition to being unsightly, often times the vacant homes can become a gathering place for transients.

In the winter time, when temperatures drop, if they start a fire inside one of the houses, flames can quickly spread.

"It causes problems for the fire department," said Barham, "and it's always a hazard when they have to fight a fire like that."

Not only can the homes be a danger for firefighters, but many are worried about kids finding their way into them as well.

"We've even been in them and found needles from drug users that have been in there," explained Teague, "so you definitely don't want kids being able to get into those houses."

Just one more reason why many said the sooner those houses are gone, the better.

Reporter's Notes by Ryan Robertson:

The City has a budget of $250,000 a year to demolish these types of structures, and on average, somewhere between 50 and 75 homes are destroyed each year.

The money to pay for the demolitions comes from a Federal Community Development Block Grant.
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