City council critical of demolition budget

Dangerous or decayed properties slated for demolition continue to increase, prompting city council members on Thursday to question the city manager’s recommended budget for it.

City Manager Troy Schulte recommends about $1.8 million for demolition with a targeted approach:

  • $1 million for properties around where the new police East Patrol station and crime lab are being built, from 24th to 29th streets, Bruce R. Watkins Drive to Benton Boulevard.
  • $500,000 for land bank properties
  • $300,000 for emergency demolitions anywhere (plus $300,000 to board up dangerous buildings.)

There is also about $850,000 approved in the current budget for demolition in the Green Impact Zone, bounded by 39th to 51st streets, Troost Avenue to Prospect to 47th Street to Swope Parkway.

That will take care of the problem in the impact zone but there is not enough money to handle all the demolition needed citywide, said John Wood, director of Neighborhood and Housing Services Department.

“To catch up right now, you’d need about $8 million,” he said.

Officials told the city council in a budget hearing that the number of properties on the demolition list continue to increase in spite of more spent on demolition this fiscal year.

The recommended budget for it is about the same as the current budget, Wood said.

Councilwoman Cindy Circo said not enough was being done.

“We continue to treat this particular department as a stepchild but scream that things are not getting taken care of,” she said.

Mayor Sly James said, “I agree with Councilwoman Circo.”

Councilman John Sharp said he agrees with both of them.

“Some of the most dangerous (properties) are not necessarily in the target zones,” he said. “Any kid can get into them easily and they’re disasters waiting to happen.”

Schulte noted that some of the tax money that could have gone to more demolitions is slated for needed street repairs.

“That’s the tough choice,” he said. “That’s what we deal with.”


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