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Farrar prioritizes vacant house demolition

By Staff
EMPTY This vacant house on Eighth Street between 29th and 28th avenues has been abandoned for years. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 27, 2001
A tight budget proposed for fiscal year 2002 may not include enough money to demolish all the abandoned houses being marked for demolition in Meridian.
Don Farrar, Meridian's community development director, discussed his budget with city councilmen earlier this month. Department heads did not have a lot of input into the budgeting process this year; Farrar's budget includes $40,000 for demolition.
City councilmen asked him how much he would have requested had he been given the chance, and he told them $60,000.
He said his staff initially work with homeowners to restore properties, so by the time they get to the demolition stage, they've been through a lengthy process.
If homeowners restore their properties, the city doesn't bear the cost of demolition, he said. Through various grant programs like those used for Project Pride the city can help homeowners repair homes.
There are 20 houses on the city's demolition list now. They have been tested for asbestos. The next step is advertising for bids for demolition, which also includes leveling, grassing the lot and plugging the sewer, Farrar said.
Five of the houses are in Ward 2, two are in Ward 3, nine in Ward 4 and four in Ward 5, he said. Depending on size and whether they contain asbestos, they are expected to cost the city $1,500-$5,000 each to demolish. An average demolition cost is $2,500-$3,000, Farrar said.
An additional 18 houses five in Ward 2, one in Ward 3, six in Ward 4 and six in Ward 5 are being checked for asbestos and could soon make their way to the demolition list.
Farrar said there is $40,000 left in the 2001 budget, but the city council must release the money and authorize the bids for demolition. He said he does not know when they will do so. If the city council approves the proposed 2002 budget, Farrar will have another $40,000 as of Oct. 1.
If there is not enough money to demolish all the houses, Farrar said he will prioritize them.
City councilmen are considering posting public notices in front of houses about which people complain.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at