City council to vote on demolition plan

By David Skolnick


In an effort to demolish as many dilapidated houses as possible, city council will vote today on a proposal to transfer $475,000 from its community-development agency to demolition.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said he’s pleased with the additional money for demolition — on top of the $1 million the city is using from its general fund and another $1 million it’s receiving from an attorney-general program for this work.

But even nearly $2.5 million won’t put much of a dent in the city’s vacant housing stock, Sammarone said.

“It’s scary; we have a serious problem with about 4,000 vacant structures,” he said.

Because of the expense involved in asbestos testing and removal, it costs the city about $7,500 to demolish a vacant house, Sammarone said.

But if no asbestos is found, the cost for demolition is less, he said.

The $2 million from the general fund and the AG program will take down about 270 houses.

The $475,000 will provide money for about 65 more demolitions.

Of the 4,000 or so vacant houses in the city, about 1,070 need to be demolished quickly, Sammarone said.

The $475,000 was found by Bill D’Avignon, the city’s community development agency director.

The money comes from the city’s federal Community Development Block Grant allocation that was originally intended for items such as personnel salaries and benefits.

The city has used CDBG money for housing demolitions.

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