Cattaraugus County Land Bank logo

In less than two years, the Cattaraugus County Land Bank Corporation has begun to make its mark.

It was a little over a year ago when the Land Bank authorized its first demolition of abandoned, blighted buildings.

Earlier this month, the Land Bank Corporation authorized four more buildings on the county’s tax foreclosure list for rehabilitation. Eight more houses — including four in Olean — were targeted for demolition. The properties are transferred to the Land Bank.

The Land Bank is working with Community Action to rehabilitate the houses deemed to be in good enough shape to rehab and sell to a buyer who will live there with a family and pay property taxes.

The homes to be rehabilitated in the latest round are on North Ninth Street in Olean, Temple Street in Portville, Court Street in Little Valley and Main Street in Franklinville.

When they are renovated, the houses will be advertised for sale on the and Bank’s website at www.cattlandbank.org.

The eight demolitions will be at 20 N. Main St., Delevan; 20 N. Cobb Ave., Delevan; 121 N. 7th St., Olean; 139 N. 7th St., Olean; 141 Adams St., Olean; 808 N. Union St., Olean; 108 Mill St., South Dayton and 88 First St., South Dayton.

Cattaraugus County Real Property Tax Services Director Daniel Martonis, who heads the county Land Bank said the demolition process will begin soon and should be completed by the end of the year.

“Adding these new properties now brings our total cleanup effort across the county to seven rehabs and 31 demolitions,” Martonis said. He credited the entire Land Bank committee with the progress, citing Kate O’Stricker of the Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, County Treasurer Joseph G. Keller and Legislators Frank Higgins, R-Olean; Susan Labuhn and David Koch, Democrats of Salamanca, and Richard Helmich, R-Delevan.

“They have been instrumental in helping with obtaining the funds for all of these projects, and for recognizing the great tool that we have in the Land Bank,” Martonis said.

Higgins has helped coordinate efforts to identify blighted property in the City of Olean and whether to rehabilitate the property or demolish it.

He credits the committee for using a strategy to determine what homes are worth saving and should be rehabilitated, and which ones should be demolished.

Olean Mayor Bill Aiello and other city officials have cooperated with the county and taken some properties from the tax sale list with plans to demolish them, Higgins said in an interview Friday.

The Cattaraugus County Land Bank “is a huge plus for the county, the City of Olean and other municipalities with blighted properties,” Higgins said. “Taking a blighted property down and cleaning up the site can clean up an entire neighborhood.”

One property on Adams Street in Olean was demolished and cleaned up. When it was put on the market, it was bought quickly with the intent to build a house there, Higgins said.

“It will go back on the tax rolls,” he said.

Other properties are offered to adjoining neighbors. Higgins said a number of neighborhoods have one blighted house that if removed or rehabilitated can dramatically impact the area.

“It’s been a great thing for Olean and the rest of he county,” he said. “Rehabilitating one home can make a difference in a neighborhood.”

Three Adams Street-area homes that were eyesores have been or will be demolished, Higgins said.

Last year the Cattaraugus County Legislature added $100,000 to the Land Bank’s efforts. The Land Bank received a $1 million state grant to get started two years ago. The group continues to look for additional grants.

“The Land Bank has done an excellent job knocking down eyesores,” Higgins said. “The county and the city have worked well together.”

The Land Bank offers property to neighbors when a blighted home has been demolished and the property turned into green space.

“What a difference it is making in a lot of neighborhoods,” Higgins said of the Land Bank.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@olean

timesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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