SIDNEY — And the walls came tumbling down … fast.
Members of the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. (land bank) watched as the walls of houses at in the 300 block of East Court Street were demolished Tuesday morning. Two of the houses — 352 and 350 E. Court St. — were torn down and the other houses — 346, 348 — will be torn down Wednesday. The remaining two houses — 344 and 342 — will either be torn down Wednesday or later in the week.
“They can take the house down pretty quick,” said Doug Ahlers, Land Bank director, “but it take time to put them in the rollbacks and get them hauled away.”
First Choice Demolition is handling the demolition of the houses, said Ahlers.
“Within the next two weeks, we should have 20 properties down,” said Ahlers. “But the end of the year, there should be 40 houses down. We also have two houses that will be rehabilitated.”
The land bank is nearing its first anniversary — Nov. 18 — in existence. The work done by the board is being realized with the demolition of houses in Sidney along with a house in Fort Loramie.
“Most of the houses are in Sidney,” said Ahlers. “It’s an older city and has older houses. There are some properties in Port Jefferson and Lockington that we’re working on to purchase.
The land bank’s goal is to remove abandoned, blighted properties from neighborhoods in Shelby County.
“We want to get down the houses before the blight becomes contagious,” Ahlers said.
Both Shelby County Commissioner Bob Guillozet and Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst were glad to see the buildings come down Tuesday morning.
“We’ve got lots of houses coming down in the next two months,” said Guillozet. “We’ll have close to 40 properties down by the end of the year.
“We want to clean up the blighted areas in the county,” he said. “We’re hoping this will stir interest in other buildings and the landlords will make those buildings look nicer.”
Barhorst concurred with Guillozet’s comments.
“This is just the beginning to try to remove the blight,” said Barhorst. “It’s a shame that the buildings were saved in the 1913 flood but they couldn’t survive bad landlords.”
After all the debris has been removed from the sites, First Choice Demolition will bring in top soil and plant grass on the properties. Trees may also be planted.
The land bank received a grant for the removal of blighted houses, said Ahlers.
“We borrow the money from the commissioners to purchase the property and tear down the houses,” said Ahlers. “Then we ask the state to reimburse us for the demolition.”
Members of the land bank board include Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann and Guillozet, Shelby County Treasurer John Coffield, Barhorst and Dave Voisard. Former Treasurer Linda Meininger was instrumental in getting the land bank established in the county.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.