City disputes county’s claim it was not involved


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville recently disputed the Darke County Commissioners’ version of its participating in the demolition program. At its Tuesday, Oct. 3 meeting, Commissioner Matt Aultman made a plea to the city to get involved in the next round of funding for demolition and clean-up of properties. The county is seeking another $500,000 from the state to clean up properties around the county.

Aultman said during that meeting, “Two years ago, they were asked, and they did not provide a list of properties or did not get engaged with the homeowners on providing any kind of properties to get cleaned up.”

He shared the two properties that were completed in Greenville did not receive assistance from the city. Aultman said he acquired the signatures on the former Blosser Lumberyard and because it is adjacent to the former East School lot, it could be used for building housing in the city. Former Commissioner Mike Stegall assisted in getting the signatures on the property in front of the softball academy. Aultman said both were eyesores and were safety hazards.

City of Greenville Safety Service Director Ryan Delk said the city did talk to Susan Laux who coordinates the program on behalf of the county. “I personally do not recall having any conversation with Mr. Aultman regarding the demolition program. As a representative of the City of Greenville, I did have many phone calls with Susan Laux, who the city was told was coordinating the program, on what qualified under the program.” Delk did commend the county for its work that it puts into this program and all programs that benefit the community.

Regarding the Blosser Lumber Yard foundations and Academy building, as well as other properties they had flagged for demolition, Delk said they were told the program required complete demolitions of properties, not just partial properties like the Academy Building. “Additionally, the city was told there had to be a structure to be demolished and not just foundation removal,” he said.

Delk said the city had multiple internal and property owner discussions about the program. “Given the requirements as provided to the city by the county, we did not have any property owners that qualified for the program. Regarding complete structures to be demolished, the city often found someone had sentimental attachment to the property or felt it held more value with a structure,” said Delk.

After learning that some of the previous regulations for the demolition program were not going to be followed, Delk said the city did get involved with the Academy Building demolition. “I hope myself and Mr. Stegall didn’t duplicate our efforts on this property. I had extensive email communication between myself, Mr. Newland, Mrs. Laux, and Mrs. Keiser to get this property demolished. It is factually inaccurate to say the city was not involved,” he said.

Delk agreed the city had nothing to do with the Blosser Lumber yard foundations being removed. “Once we were informed it wouldn’t qualify we moved on. When the city was told it qualified, the application to demolish had already been completed.” Delk further stated, “The city is very happy the demolition happened, it definitely needed accomplished, and we hope this helps spark residential housing projects in the area.”

Delk understands that demolition program :have value and a place in the overall cosmetics of the city,” he has a different point of view. “From my experience, I would rather see a property rehabilitated versus demolished when possible. In most cases the properties in the city that have been torn down pose a new set of challenges. The demolished properties normally end up as a small grass lot in a neighborhood with construction cost and styles that are no longer cost effective to build. Often the lot owner moves away or just gets sick of mowing and paying taxes on it then becomes a nuisance to the neighbors with overgrown vegetation. Finally, the real estate tax bill gets too high for anyone to want to purchase the lot for building or extra space because of mowing assessments and back taxes.”

Delk concluded, “The city is not here to stand up and say look what we did. The city just wants to see progress and teamwork. We don’t care who takes the credit. However, the citizens of the City of Greenville deserve to know that the city is working hard to clean up the city and to take advantage of all funding sources that are out there. The commissioners’ tone that the city is disinterested is not accurate. We need to be a team working together to make this a great community!”

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