Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron addressed a variety of concerns posed Thursday by Warwood residents, including what the city is doing about dilapidated properties.
Herron said the city's vacant property registration program now has 180 properties registered across the city. The focus of the program is to get property owners to either raze, fix or sell their properties to someone who will renovate the buildings instead of letting them rot.
''We don't have that many registered in Warwood,'' Herron said. ''We have one guy who, for a year now, has done nothing but code enforcement. ... We have had some success. ... The buildings we've initially registered have been either demolished by the owner, sold or renovated and occupied.''
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron talks about the city’s vacant property registration program while addressing Warwood residents’ concerns about blighted properties Thursday. Also shown are, from left, Sheriff Pat Butler and Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge.
After a one-year grace period, those who do not comply are levied fines that can amount to thousands of dollars. Herron said the city hopes to use proceeds from the fines to put back into the program to tear down dilapidated properties. The city annually uses about $200,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to raze blighted properties, but the process to use such money is a lengthy one, he noted.
Warwood resident Jim Kobasko pointed out a couple properties on Highland Avenue, and other residents gave addresses of more houses they believe need attention. Kobasko said Warwood at one time was full of nice homes, but since there are now more rundown buildings he believes people's pride in the neighborhood is waning.
''Every city in America has these problems. Every city is dealing with vacant structures,'' Herron noted.
Meanwhile, one resident complained about people parking beside the Garden Park ballfields on Sundays despite there being a yellow line painted along the street, meaning no parking is allowed. She asked Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger to address the matter.
He said it was true that parking matters are at an officer's discretion. He said he did not want to minimize the woman's concerns, but lately police have had more pressing matters to investigate.
''Since I've been here, in six weeks look at how many shootings we've had. There's been three pursuits of drug dealers from Ohio, people that have broken into homes. ... You have to prioritize concerns. And right now my concerns are drug dealers shooting drug dealers and those things have to be a priority,'' he said. ''The other thing is I'm getting grief from some members of the city because officers are writing tickets on the yellow line. Excuse my language, but my officers are damned if you do, damned if you don't.''
In addition to Herron and Schwertfeger, other officials in attendance were Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, police Cpl. Rick Roxby and Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler. The next Warwood Neighborhood Watch meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at Warwood Christian Church, 17th Street and Richland Avenue.