MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 2, 2013

Demolition backlog coming under review

Councilor wants city to catch up in razing condemned structures

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Public Works Committee members will review today the status of the city’s demolition program for derelict housing and dilapidated structures.

The review was requested by Ward III Councilor Randy Howard, who said he was contacted by a concerned resident. The concern stems from the backlog of houses that have been condemned but remain standing, he said.

“Apparently we have about 400 condemned houses in Muskogee, and we are getting rid of about 40 a year,” Howard said. “That is a lot of houses — I know it costs money to do something with them — and we need to see what we can do to get caught up.”

Information from city planners shows the city spends about $200,000 a year to demolish condemned structures. Half of that comes from a community development block grant, and the remainder comes from the general fund.

During fiscal year 2013, which began July 1, city administrators scheduled the demolition of 43 structures at a cost of $177,992. The owners of 28 condemned structures have demolished those at a cost of $161,811.

Since July 1, city officials have condemned 36 more structures. Of those condemnations, two buildings have been torn down, two were appealed, four other appeals are pending, one structure is being repaired, and two are within an area targeted for urban renewal.

Planning Director Gary Garvin said a big push began during the 1990s to address dilapidated and derelict housing in the city. He acknowledged the backlog exists but said it is much smaller than it was just a few years ago.

From 2007 to 2012, the city has demolished 324 structures at a cost of more than $1.23 million. Data confirm Howard’s assessment that more than 400 condemned structures await demolition.

Howard said those structures pose problems for their neighborhoods and owners of adjacent property. He said his priority Tuesday will be to determine whether the city is “doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

“I think our local neighborhoods that have some of these houses need to be cleaned up,” he said, noting an understanding of the priorities that exist when it comes to scheduling demolition projects. “Sometimes things get put on the back burner. We need to find out where we are going and let these people know what is happening, because it’s hurting their property values.”

City councilors will convene the Public Works and Finance committee meetings at 4 p.m. today. They meet in the City Council chambers on the third floor of the Muskogee Municipal Building, 229 W. Okmulgee Ave.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Meeting

WHAT: Muskogee Public Works, Finance Committee regular meeting.

WHEN: 4 p.m. today.

WHERE: City Council Chambers, third floor, Muskogee Municipal Building, 229 W. Okmulgee Ave.

ON TV: Broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 14.



PUBLIC WORKS

COMMITTEE

Consider:

• Report regarding the feasibility study for economic development of Love-Hatbox Sports Complex.

• Report regarding the status of all derelict, dilapidated and removed structures within the city of Muskogee.

• Affirmative action plan for the city of Muskogee.

• Use of Hatbox Airfield for the annual Touch-A-truck fundraising event.



FINANCE COMMITTEE

Consider:

• Claims for all city departments March 19-29.

• Awarding low bid from Legg Lawn & Landscape in the amount of $0.00539 per square foot to mow lots through the weed abatement program.

• Awarding best bid from Baker Equipment in the amount of $51,790.10 along with two options for the retrofitting of the camera van.

• Awarding best bid from WasteQuip/May Fab in the amount of $434 per tank for the purchase of 60, two-yard, rear-loading containers.

• Agreement with Tri-State Floors for the refurbishment and repairs of the Muskogee Teen Center basketball court in the amount of $24,510.

• Rejection of all bids and approval to purchase of a 2013 Ford Escape from the State of Oklahoma purchase contract in the amount of $18,799 from Bill Knight Ford.

• Resolution declaring the parcel of property at the corner of Ash and Manitou streets as surplus property and authorizing the sale of said property to Lynn C. Parker-Kelley in the amount of $163.

• Resolution declaring the parcel of property adjacent to the south property line at 423 N. M St. as surplus property and authorizing the sale of said property to William Nichols in the amount of $163.

• Resolution declaring two parcels of properties located on South B Street and Frankfort Avenue as surplus property and authorizing the sale of said properties to Steve and Opal Wiedel in the amount of $326.