Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 15, 2008

NIAGARA FALLS: Block clubs want more derelict homes demolished

The abandoned home at 1120 Linwood Ave. has seen much better days.

Windows are boarded up, siding has been destroyed and the structure has been set ablaze on several occasions. It’s also a known hot spot for drug activity, Falls police officer Mike Corcoran said.

However, compared to its three neighboring houses, it almost seems livable. The structures at 1128, 1130 and 1132 on Linwood are abandoned, too, but are beginning to crumble. Windows have been knocked out or removed, tree limbs have broken through gutters and the insides are infested with vermin.

“It’s a long, long process back,” Niagara Falls Block Club Council member Norma Higgs said sadly while looking at the houses Friday.

Higgs and other block club leaders are putting pressure on the city to demolish more derelict properties, which are in no way just confined to Linwood Avenue.

“There’s got to be a house like this on almost every block in the city or at least one that’s becoming like this,” Higgs said, referring to 1120 Linwood.

The block club council has submitted a plan of action calling for the city to use $4 million in casino funds over the next two years, enough money to demolish hundreds of homes. Currently, the city uses between $350,000 and $475,000 in Community Development Block Grants to demolish about 25 buildings annually, Spurback said.

The plan also encourages the city to change in-rem auction procedures on abandoned properties and tighten enforcement on slumlords and property speculators who live outside the city.

During a speech to the City Council earlier this week, Spurback estimated there were more than 30 abandoned homes in need of demolition on Linwood and Willow avenues and many more in areas such as Cudaback and Mackenna avenues and Falls Street.

“These areas are high for drug trafficking and weapons,” Spurback said, his voice rising. “We ask you for a new beginning.”

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