MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 19, 2014

Demolition plan solid


— With help from the City of Muskogee Foundation — and voters — Muskogee could eliminate a problem that will continue to grow.

City planners recently outlined a plan to demolish up to 500 dilapidated structures located throughout the city. The plan would wipe out a backlog that grows larger each year and eliminate blight.

If not addressed, the backlog will continue to grow.

Planning Director Gary Garvin said there are more than 400 structures within Muskogee that have been — or are in the process of being — condemned. Fifty more are added to that list each year.

The proposal outlines plans to apply for a $1 million grant from the City of Muskogee Foundation for demolition work and $300,000 to fund incentives to spur residential infill development.

In order to eliminate the backlog and stay current in the future, the city would have to match the foundation grant dollar for dollar. Municipal funding would be contingent upon voters’ approving a $1 million outlay from the city’s capital improvements program, which would require the extension of a temporary sales tax.

The plan is solid. We know Muskogee desperately needs to be cleaned up, and demolishing these structures will improve the image tremendously.

We also understand why there is a backlog. With the city budget in a years-long slump, it makes sense for the demolition budget to be cut. After all, a sound and solid infrastructure is more essential — and needed — than making the city look better.

That’s why we applaud city officials for thinking outside the box and attempting to address the situation without straining the budget.

This is a creative and hopefully fruitful way to clear the backlog and take care of a problem that if left unchecked will continue to tarnish Muskogee’s image.