March 8, 2013
Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The Moving Ohio Forward demolition program has been removing vacant, blighted properties to improve neighborhoods in Portsmouth, New Boston and West Portsmouth.
“The Attorney General thought this program up, and he got $75 million from banks and set it aside for demolition in Ohio. Then they came up with a formula, pretty much based on population, and divided it up among the 88 counties. Scioto was allocated $277,000,” said Fritz Leighty, a consultant in the Scioto County Commissioner’s Office.
Administered by the county office, the program divides the money evenly between the city and the county. The county targeted houses in New Boston and West Portsmouth for demolition. So far, Leighty said, 12 houses have been removed; five in Portsmouth, five in New Boston and two in West Portsmouth.
The city of Portsmouth also has its separate Gateway Project to remove 25 additional homes inside the city.
“A lot of these are health and safety threats. We’ve got some standing open on Stanton Avenue in New Boston,” Leighty said. “We got four on Stanton that we need to take down, and three are owned by a guy in West Virginia whose uncle lived in the house and said he was going to fix them up since 2009. Finally we wrote him a letter and said, ‘It’s been four years. In 30 days we take them down.’”
Other vacant houses being targeted for demolition have been gathering places for drug activity.
Leighty said it’s important to move quickly on these projects, because the Dec. 31 deadline will be here before you know it and it takes a while to receive legal clearance to proceed. Once the land is cleared, the county files a lien on the property.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.