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NIP Blight in Wheeling

Editor, News-Register:

Most of you that read this letter live in areas of Wheeling that haven’t been touched by the blight that some of our fellow citizens have to live beside.

So you might have a hard time grasping the daily sight of an abandoned, vacant, or poorly maintained structure next door.

Buildings with broken windows, missing siding, loose gutters, mold, and missing downspouts; yards overgrown with weeds, bushes, and trees.

In some cases topped off by litter and abandoned junk and trash. You don’t know what it’s like to want to take care of your home, but lack the incentive to try and keep your property in reasonable shape under those circumstances.

The city is fully aware of the conditions just mentioned, and have, to put it nicely, ignored providing the leadership and funding necessary to begin attacking the problem(s).

Instead, the city of Wheeling created a program in May of 2017 titled “Facade Improvement Program” (FIP) to provide one-time reimbursement (grants) up to $15,000 to privately owned commercial buildings within the central business district “to support the revitalization of the city’s downtown business district…that enhance the appearance of buildings and properties and eliminate blight and non-conforming design standards.”

In my opinion, and what I would advocate for, is the (FIP) program being changed to the “Neighborhood Improvement Program” (NIP).

I envision that program as a means to offer one-time low or no-interest loans to low- and moderate-income owner-occupied structures throughout the city, so those home owners can afford to make improvements to their property.

Funding for new roofs, siding, windows, electrical upgrades, plumbing, heating, insulation, etc. would be made available.

That, coupled with an aggressive code enforcement effort for maintenance and upkeep of rental properties, demolition of abandoned properties, and a mandatory requirement for all structures to carry fire and liability insurance, could result in a reversal of the spread of the urban blight we are witnessing.

Unfortunately, some of you, the ones that actually can make a difference, qre reluctant, or don’t care enough about your city, to take a stand regarding this matter. Stabilize the neighborhoods and property values, eradicate the blight of vacant and abandoned buildings, and help our struggling taxpayers in remodeling and upgrading their homes.

Together we can grow Wheeling and truly underline why it is called “The Friendly City”.

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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