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home : insight & opinion : editorials October 04, 2015

8/15/2005 3:32:00 PM
Eyesores not going away

Behold the power of the press.

Back in November 2004, a Daily News editorial praised the city of Robinson for its program of aggressively pursuing derelict properties through condemnation. Eyesores all over town were getting dealt with either by demolition or forcing owners to fix them up.

Shortly after publication of that editorial, in January 2005, the city placed a moratorium on condemning properties. The process apparently fell victim to the city’s budget crunch.

So while it’s been decided that condemnation is a too-costly method to deal with the city’s blight, eyesores continue to deteriorate and multiply while city officials try to figure out a cheaper way to deal with them.

As that November editorial pointed out, you don’t have to drive too far down almost any street in Robinson to find a deteriorating or neglected property — often surrounded by well-maintained homes. Even as aggressive as the city’s condemnation campaign was, it just hit the tip of the iceberg. Many properties that don’t meet the requirements for condemnation still drag down the value of neighboring property, create health and safety hazards and send a regrettable message to those who might want to live here.

In fact, that last point is worth thinking about when weighing the true cost of dealing with eyesores. When a site-selection team for a potential new industry cruises the streets of Robinson and is greeted with scenes more consistent with poverty-stricken Appalachia, what are they to think? When a family moving into town finds the perfect home — around the corner from a deteriorating shotgun shack — what are they to do?

Here’s hoping the city can come up with a comprehensive way to deal with a problem that isn’t going away — and one that, while it’s not unique to Robinson, certainly seems worse here than in comparable cities elsewhere. And by “comprehensive,” we mean spanning the breadth of the problem from “livable” eyesores, to those needing major repair, to those needing a bulldozer.

Tracking down property owners, which has often proven difficult, will obviously be a key part of any plan. The city also needs to review its current ordinances and decide whether they are not being enforced or are simply not tough enough.

Enforcement of any kind of plan, whether it includes condemnation or not, carries costs. But the cost of doing nothing is the highest of all.

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