The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 27, 2014

Clean and clear

City addressing dilapidated buildings

By Lora Scripps

— A dilapidated house in Athens was torn down last week after being declared a public nuisance and condemned.

The house, at 905 W. Pryor St., was in poor condition, the lot was overgrown and neighbors said it was attracting vermin and other pests.

This city of Athens had been working on removing the house for almost a year, according to Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks. Officials and neighbors were concerned about the safety of residents and others in the community.

Marks said the city has either taken down or asked neighbors to take down as many as 50 dilapidated buildings in the past several years.

“This was the latest to come to our attention,” Marks said.

The property had come under fire by neighbors last September.

Marcia Day, a former Athens High School teacher, addressed the council concerned about the safety of her grandchild who lives near the property.

“This house is in pitiful condition … I implore you to do something about it,” Day said at the meeting.

After letters were sent to the property owner, city building inspector Eric Waddell condemned the property and recommended demolition. He told The News Courier in September that the city had already taken action on 16 houses within the past 12 months — three were repaired and the rest were demolished.

Marks said in the 10 years he has been in office — either on the City Council or as mayor — the city has continuously looked at what needs to be done to clean up the community.

“It’s an effort we will continue to work on,” Marks said. “We have ongoing cleanup efforts around the city.”

Council President Harold Wales previously told The News Courier that residents living near a dilapidated house or overgrown property in the city could bring them to the council’s attention by calling City Hall.

“This City Council is determined to clean up areas that we have seen for far too long,” Wales told The News Courier. “We are on the job and we are going to clean up this city.”

On Wednesday, Marks said there is a “real exciting energy force” inside Athens that involves a lot of people working together to continuously improve quality of life and to maintain and keep the community clean.