OSWEGO, NY – What to do about the various dangerous buildings in the Port City was the topic of discussion at Monday night’s council committee meetings.
At the Planning and Development Committee meeting, Tony Leotta, city engineer, requested the Common Council authorize the building located at 14 Walter St. be demolished and further authorize the purchasing agent to seek bids for the demolition, with the cost being assessed against the property.
The owners have failed to assume responsibility and have abandoned interest in the property, he said.
“This building is unsafe and it should come down,” Leotta said. “The property owner has relinquished the property. So we’re free to do what we want with it.”
The foundation of the building is in very bad condition, added Neal Smith, code enforcement director.
“I would urge the council to move on this one,” he said adding that the city would need to do an environmental study to check for the presence of asbestos.
The cost to raze the building would be assessed against the property taxes, Leotta noted.
It’s unlikely the city would get its money, City Attorney Gay Williams said.
“Once it’s demolished, we’re putting that assessment against a vacant lot,” she explained. “If they don’t pay the taxes then we will end up with the lot.”
The committee will consider amendments to the code to make owners more responsible for properties such as this. More fines and the possibility of jail time were some options discussed.
The building is actually leaning, Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers said. He doesn’t want to see anyone injured if the building collapses, he said.
He urged the committee to expedite the resolution.
At Monday night’s Administrative Services Committee the code enforcement director, pursuant to a request from Councilor Michael Myers, asked to resume discussion regarding the demolition of 123 E. Seneca St., which was last on the agenda in October of 2011 for discussion.
The building has been abandoned for around a dozen years, Smith said.
“We did have an environmental study done,” Myers said. “Again, this is another one of those houses that have just been there. This building should definitely come down.”
He wanted to authorize the purchasing agent to seek bids for demolition.
Fourth Ward Councilor Shawn Walker said the city should look into obtaining grant funding for the asbestos abatement and demolition costs of these types of building.
The city needs to take care of many of these buildings now, according to Council President Ron Kaplewicz. But it needs to get a long-term plan in place as well, he added.
“The game plan needs to be the priorities and how we pay for them,” he said.
The city could petition to become to become part of Land Grant System, Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd pointed out.
“There is grant money available for us to demolish some of these homes on the condition that they be put back on the block for redevelopment,” he said.
The city would have to petition the state to become part of the system, he explained. Some other area cities are taking part in the program, he told the councilors.
The committees gave the resolutions a favorable recommendation and sent them on to the full council for consideration next week.