City Officials Working On Demolished House List

The list of condemned houses to be demolished is constantly fluctuating.

Despite houses coming on and off the list, city officials are planning to knock down 25 of them this year with help from community partners.

Vince DeJoy, city development director, said with money from the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation and by working with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, they have money to demolish about 50 houses during the next two years.

“That is our goal and that is based upon funding received from a grant that we applied for through the Chautauqua County Land Bank and the state Office of the Attorney General,” DeJoy said. “The land bank received $1.5 million, and $500,000 is earmarked over two years for Jamestown.”

DeJoy said city officials budgeted $160,000 this year for tearing down abandoned houses, and there is also Community Development Block Grant money available to aid in the process. DeJoy said city officials want to discuss what to do next with other community groups to find the best way to remove eyesores from neighborhoods.

“We are looking for community partners to give us their input,” he said. “The land bank is in the process of looking for a manager. Hopefully we will have someone full-time working on this. From there, we will work with our community partners to do this right.”

DeJoy said Chautauqua County is ahead of the curve when it comes to having a land bank, as there are only five in the state.

“That is why we received the funding,” he said about the $1.5 million received from the state Attorney General Office. “We will be a model. In fact, we will be featured nationally through (The Center For Community Progress’) land bank research. They are going to feature us on how to attack this problem and remove blight.”

DeJoy said the list of abandoned houses is constantly changing. He said city officials work on condemning properties, process paperwork, go to court and do testing before finally demolishing a house.

“There is a whole process of serving the title owner to demolish or renovate. They have the option to renovate it if it is cost feasible. We give them the opportunity to bring it back up to code, to standards,” he said. “If they don’t respond or comply to the order to demolish or rehabilitate, then we go through the court process, which could take a long time. They give the owner opportunity to respond. If they make an effort, the court could give them more time. Even if they don’t respond, it takes time to get the court order. Once we have the court order, we still have to do an asbestos test. The list is very fluid. Houses are coming on and off it.”