Not in My Neighborhood
Most of you who read this letter to the editor live in areas of Wheeling that haven’t been touched by the blight that our fellow citizens have to live beside. So you might have a hard time grasping the daily sight of an abandoned structure next door, over grown with weeds, broken windows, litter and trash, and possibly being used as a place to shoot up.
You don’t know what it’s like to try and keep your property in reasonable shape under those circumstances.
In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that I know with absolute certainty that if you had a deteriorated structure, vacant or occupied, next door you would be storming City Hall demanding immediate attention, and guess what, you probably would get it.
However, the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is absolutely true in vacant and deteriorated property issues. Take, for example, an abandoned, deteriorated property on Wheeling Island (45 South Broadway). Owned by a woman from Huntington, WV. She hasn’t paid fire service fees, nor the vacant property fees, and the property is listed for abatement and demolition as of May 14, 2018. I can only guess how long that property has been vacant, but I’m sure many years would be a safe bet. Next door to that property is an occupied structure that appears to be in relatively good shape.
Unfortunately there is less than a 10-foot separation between the occupied structure and the abandoned property. If there should be a fire at 45 S. Broadway the occupants, and the next door structure are at extreme risk.
I wonder how the insurance premium of the occupied structure next door is affected, based on the abandoned house? Would the mayor, city manager, city solicitor, councilperson, head of the ECDD, or any affluent citizen stand idly by should that structure be next door to where they live? I don’t think so, and I’d be willing to bet it would have been long gone instead of just sitting there waiting for money to be allocated to tear it down. Oh! And by the way, my information suggests that our mayor and city council have not allocated any monies since 2017 to demolish any of the many abandoned and deteriorated structures. They feel it is more important to expend our taxpayer’s dollars on subsidizing downtown projects such as $650,000 to purchase and remodel the two Main Street properties that should have seen the wrecking ball at a far less cost.
The citizens will not live long enough to see the recovery of the wasted money on those properties.
Getting back on track! Why should I be concerned? What skin do I have in the game? Someone has to shine the light on the injustices and wasteful spending we have witnessed over the past years.
Someone once said that everyone is equal when it comes to code enforcement, it’s just that some are more equal than others. It’s the same old, same old, the little guy doesn’t have the time, patience, or money to fight city hall. In a meeting I attended with city officials on Thursday, I learned a number of things. I look forward to letting you know what I discovered from meeting with those officials when I put pen to paper next week.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Will Rogers: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Hope springs eternal.