OLEAN — Two more unsafe houses will go the way of dozens already in the city — to the landfill.
On Tuesday, the Common Council approved a transfer of $24,000 from the city’s contingency fund to the demolition of unsafe buildings budget account to help cover the costs of leveling 1013 Washington St. and 303 E. Elm St. The remainder of the funding is unexpended from the demolition line for the 2019-20 budget year.
“These are the two remaining blight houses the city acquired last year,” said alderman John Crawford, D-Ward 5, whose ward includes the Washington Street property.
The council gave the mayor the go-ahead to acquire the properties over the summer, and authorized the mayor to bid out the demolition of the structure in August. The other property OK’d by the council for purchase last summer, 405 S. Fourth St., has been demolished to make way for a proposed larger parking lot to Franchot Park.
Mayor Bill Aiello said that the Cattaraugus County Land bank expressed interest in the Elm Street property, but decided against restoration.
Thanks to a contractor already working in the city for demolitions by the Cattaraugus County Land Bank, Crawford said the city “got a pretty sweet deal” demolishing the structure at 927 Buffalo St., which burned in January. Crawford lauded the work of the firm at the site, noting neighbors have said they are pleased with the job.
City Attorney Nick DiCerbo said the city spent about $33,000 on that demolition — much lower than the projected $50,000 — and officials hope to recover the funds from a judgement against the property owner.
A similar deal was received from the same contractor during open bidding — around $20,000 for 1013 Washington St. and under $19,000 for 303 E. Elm St.
“This is a good deal with these prices,” said Aiello, who originally expected the demolition costs to be about twice as much.
The contingency fund — around $200,000 remains of the $233,500 set aside in the budget — has in recent years often been used at the tail end of the budget year to make purchases not accounted for in the budget, but the official purpose is to cover one-time emergency expenses.
“If we’re going to spend contingency monies, this is a hell of a place to spend it,” said council President Paul Gonzalez, D-Ward 3.
In May 2016, the city acquired 13 properties from Cattaraugus County for $40,000, with the intention to have the properties renovated or demolished. After an 18-month delay, the city demolished most and sold others off to be demolished or renovated. Aldermen decided to continue the program in 2019, but chose to acquire just three properties after the work and dollars needed to rectify the situation of the first 13 properties.