OLEAN — City officials hope to get three more dilapidated structures down this year.

Mayor Bill Aiello said he will move ahead with bidding out demolition contracts for three recently-acquired properties — 303 E. Elm St., 405 S. Fourth St., and 1013 Washington St. — after a meeting Tuesday with the Common Council’s strategic planning committee.

Council President John Crawford, D-Ward 5, showcased the properties on the county Real Property Service database. The council authorized Aiello to execute documents to acquire the properties in July.

“We didn’t want them to go back up for auction” and become poor-quality rentals, he said, encouraging his fellow aldermen to “continue demolishing these cancerous properties in our neighborhoods.”

  • 1013 Washington St., is “the ex-meth house and drug house,” Crawford said. “The neighborhood would be drastically improved by taking it down.”
  • 405 S. Fourth St., Aiello said, was sought for its location near Franchot Park. “It would give us the ability to expand the parking lot at that end of the park,” he said, with 10 to 20 off-street parking spots added, using waste material as gravel. “We would probably put some millings (from road work) down in there.”
  • 303 E. Elm St., a large structure, is structurally unstable, said Alderman Kevin Dougherty, R-Ward 4, with the upper floor sloping at an unsafe angle.

The effort is the second round of taking on county-owned problem properties for remediation. In 2016, the city took title to 13 similar houses. While it took almost two years to begin demolition, all have since been demolished at city expense or transferred to new owners for renovation or demolition.

Crawford noted that there is around $90,000 for demolition in the city’s coffers, including some from an encumbered fund in a previous budget. That should be enough, he said, as the city previously received a bid for $100,000 to demolish four similar structures.

Aldermen were in agreement to move ahead with the bids for demolition.

“That money was encumbered four years ago — it’s got three inches of dust on it,” said Alderman Paul Gonzalez, D-Ward 3, happy to see it being used for its intended purpose.

He asked, however, what will happen to the properties once they are cleared.

City Attorney Nick DiCerbo noted a local law allows the city to sell surplus properties to private parties, and an auction could even be arranged if so desired by the council. After Alderman Linda Witte, D-Ward 1, offered concern over properties being sold at too low of a cost, Aiello said the city could set a minimum bid of several hundred dollars to cover the legal costs incurred by the city.

CRAWFORD ALSO noted that progress is being made on demolishing a property no longer owned by the city.

The property at 306 N. 11th St., owned by Rural Revitalization Corp., is nearing demolition, Crawford said, with asbestos tiles removed from the outside and the interior gutted in preparation.

“I’m told that in the next couple days that building is coming down at RRC’s expense,” Crawford said. “The people on North 11th are being incredibly patient.”

RRC purchased the structure for $1 in May 2018 in hopes of renovating it and selling it, using the proceeds to fund a community garden effort on the site of a demolished house on Reed Street. However, foundation problems halted the work a few weeks short of completion, leaving the site partially covered by a blue tarp through the winter. The nonprofit sought permission in May to extend the timetable and demolish the structure.

(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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