LETTERS: Official challenges letter that blasted land bank

Last week a letter to the editor appeared in this paper from a real- estate investor who has described himself to us as a resident of Los Angeles, bashing the Trumbull County Land Bank. While we certainly invite any feedback and welcome all legitimate criticisms, the liberties taken by the author with the facts absolutely warrant a response.

The premise of the letter is that the Trumbull County Land Bank somehow makes a habit of tearing down perfectly salvageable historically significant homes without consideration or hesitation. That is mythology our residents know is simply not the case.

In fact, of the roughly 500 houses we have torn down, not one was state or federally designated as a historic property — that rule comes directly from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the funder of the demolition effort.

Further, on the rare occasion that we have acquired any property with what appears to be both remotely salvageable and remotely historically significant, we have made that property available for sale, for exactly $1, and promoted it like crazy to try and save it. We do everything we can to save houses that come to us having been vacant for many, many years, but at the end of the day someone has to craft and execute a renovation plan instead of a letter to actually save one that costs four times its value to repair, an effort we won’t take on with public money.

Our community has 1,500 vacant houses. We have torn down 500 and saved 300. Most of these choices are very easy, but some are not.

At the end of the day, it is the residents of Warren and not Los Angeles who live next to these blighted properties. We have never once had a next door neighbor complain about the vacant house next to them being torn down. We have never had a neighbor say that while the abandoned house next door may be destroying their property value or bringing unsafe activity as close as it gets to their kids, they’d like us to keep it standing another decade while we wait for the off-chance that some out of town investor just might decide to renovate it, someday.

Our Valley, and especially our urban centers, have experienced massive population and job losses, long-term disinvestment, and, subsequently, blight. We’ve made great strides to improve our communities and have a long way to go, and I would encourage anyone who actually wants to help to pick up the phone, a hammer, or both, and join us.

Anyone who would like to take on one of our properties, they are listed at trumbullcountylandbank.org.

Matt Martin, Warren

Matt Martin is executive director of the Trumbull Neighorhood Partnership.