Louisiana City Works to Remove Dilapidated Structures

February 15, 2012

The city of Alexandria, La., can’t keep up with the demand for destroying dilapidated structures in the city.

During the 20-month span from May 2010 to December 2011, City Attorney Chuck Johnson told the city council that 50 homes were destroyed, either by the city or the property owner, while another 11 were rehabilitated.

However, that was only 21 percent of the 286 complaints that were received by the city during that time frame.

“There are a lot of abandoned properties and blighted homes in various parts of the city,” Councilman Jerry Jones tells The Town Talk.

“We’ve got buildings throughout the city that need to be condemned,” Councilman Ed Larvadain III said.

The problem simply comes down to a matter of economics. The average cost per demolition is around $3,500, said Johnson and the city’s chief operating officer, Kay Michiels. The city’s budget for demolition is roughly $60,000 per year.

It’s even more expensive to demolish any of the numerous abandoned commercial properties around the city, Michiels said. Due to the “arduous legal process” of acquiring a clear title for the properties as well as expensive environmental concerns such as the removal of lead and asbestos, demolishing just one commercial property could run $30,000 or more.

“We’re left with a problem because we don’t have the resources to eliminate it,” Michiels said.

“It’s a huge problem municipalities across the country are dealing with,” she added.

Unfortunately for city officials, it’s not a problem that simply will disappear, though. As the city’s structures continue to age, more and more will become dilapidated.

Jones challenged the administration and his fellow council members to find a solution to the problem.

“This is something we should think about constantly and become creative about dealing with it,” he said.

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