Action Report: City website claims collapsing house demolished, it wasn't

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 14, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 14 at 11:41 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

The long abandoned  Banks Street home is a wreck. The entire house leans to the left. Some of the large timbers that form the building's spine have broken and fallen to the ground, causing parts of the structure to sag.  The inside has been gutted and the floors are buckled and collapsing.

"It's not only frightening, but it is definitely very ugly for the neighborhood," said neighbor Brandon Speed. "A lot of things are happening here on Banks, and until we can get things like this taken care of, it's not going to improve much."

Brandon picks up the trash once a month.

"I've actually called the city several times, to inquire as to what they're going to do with it, and I was told that it was slated to come down," he said. "That was about maybe eight months ago, and it hasn't happened yet. And I called because we've had squatters, we've also had like two packs of dogs in this house that we've been able to get out. But I'm concerned because I see some kids playing in there, so it definitely needs to come down."

But when checking the city's Blight Status website, it noted the property had been inspected, and a guilty judgement issued in 2011. But then at the bottom, a stunning claim, that the building no longer existed, that it had been torn down through the city's Strategic Demolition Program.

"Within four or five months after I called them, there was a dumpster that was set up there for one weekend, with a crane, and it sat there for the weekend, and then on Monday, it was gone," recalled Brandon. "I don't know what happened. I haven't called back since, I kinda gave up."

A city spokesman admitted the website was wrong about the demolition, and noted there is a disclaimer.

But it says the information may not be up to date. It doesn't say the information could be wrong. The spokesman also said their check showed no contractor was assigned to demolish the house, or paid for a demolition that didn't happen.

Situations like this are always a priority because it's so dangerous. So I'm contacting the Mayor's office, and the city's Department of Code Enforcement, asking them to get the structure taken down as quickly as possible. For Brandon, it will be a sign that the City has not forgotten about this neighborhood, because right now, he's not feeling the love from City Hall.

"Maybe I'll try calling them again, but it didn't work the last two times that I called, so I just gave up," said Brandon. "What does that say about what you think about the City? I think their priorities are in other neighborhoods, and other places."

The city spokesman says they are now working to get the building torn down, for real this time.

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