Neglect a Problem

Editor, News-Register:

Vacant Property?

I’ve re-written this letter several times, only to discover at each writing that it was turning into a book instead of a letter. So it begins anew! Vacant, abandoned, and neglected residential and commercial property is prevalent throughout our city. This problem is not unique to Wheeling. It is a widespread national concern, and if left unchecked, will continue to grow and flourish.

Research reveals, and local conditions support, that there are a number of reasons, including but not limited to the lack of good-paying jobs, older buildings, absentee owners, and a lack of demand for the occupancy of these vacant buildings. For whatever reason, be it an ambivalent administration, lack of manpower, lack of motivation, inadequate enforcement tools, selective enforcement, or a combination of the above, Wheeling is a city in decay. Don’t take my word for it, just look around, as it is apparent in every section of our city.

One might be justified in asking why has the city administration, over the years, permitted these festering sores (deteriorated structures) to remain? The sores spread and further diminish the ability of the neighborhood(s) to recover. Eventually, people who are trying to maintain their properties throw their hands up in surrender, and either sell at a substantial loss or quit investing in their homes/properties.

I’ve asked for public records concerning this matter and have been advised by the City Solicitor R.H. Humway that my request is being handled as a Freedom of Information Act request. Seems ridiculous to me: Why can’t I, or any other person, view public records without having to do so by using a FIOA request?

Under the FIOA request the city has five (5) days to produce, and provide access to, the requested documents so I’ll have to bring you up to date of the reason for the “runaround” in my next letter to the editor.

I noticed with interest that there was no money set aside in the previous Community Development Block Grant budget for demolition of any of these properties. It seems it is more convenient for the mayor and city council to ignore these deteriorated structures, and concentrate on spending millions on a streetscape project (new curbs, sidewalks, and landscaping) an unneeded parking garage to help out an out-of-state private developer, and a new public safety building, and spending in excess of $650,000 on a downtown property. Downtown being a key word.

I can only assume that the mayor and city council do not see the value, or importance, of removing these eyesores, and potential fire and health hazards since I’m not aware of any current funding set aside to raze any of these buildings.

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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