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Abandoned houses:Guard's offer should be accepted

By Staff
The generous offer of the Army National Guard's 150th Combat Engineer Battalion to knock down abandoned houses in Meridian should be accepted as soon as possible so that some of the city's worst eyesores and safety hazards can be eliminated.
Don Farrar, Meridian community development director, said city leaders are considering the option but haven't worked out details. They're not sure how many of the 38 houses on the demolition list the Army National Guard might be asked to demolish, but it would be only houses determined not to contain asbestos. Asbestos cleanup requires much more specialized equipment.
For abandoned houses, the proposed partnership could work well for all parties. The city could save some $70,000 in demolition costs and Guard members could get some more hands-on practical training.
According to Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith, city officials are consulting with county supervisors on hauling away the debris. If this is the only sticking point, we hope the details can be worked out soon.
With only $40,000 in the fiscal year 2002 budget for demolition, $20,000 less than the Community Development Department requested, the Guard's offer sounds even better.
Clearing lots of abandoned, dilapidated houses is clearly a cause worth pursuing. We applaud the creative thinking that led to this proposal and encourage the city and county to get together with the Guard to make it happen.