Tearing down derelict houses in Lamar helps improve a neighborhood in a number of ways; the area becomes free of blight, property values have a chance to increase, there’s less of a risk of other houses falling into disrepair, vandalism, vagrancy and drug houses are reduced, and an opportunity develops for a new house to be built on the lot, adding to the city’s and local school district’s property taxes.
The down side to this project is the cost of the demolition process, mostly due to state health requirements for an asbestos content study, cost of removal and transportation of the asbestos to a certified landfill. The demolition process is also hampered by various legal procedures to contact the owner, recognize any liens on the property and settle up on who owes how much to whom.
Despite some of these hurdles, the City of Lamar has taken down a half a dozen houses over the past several months and more are slated for demolition this year, such as this duplex complex at the intersection of West Oak and 9th Streets. The property has been vacant for several years and neighbors and passers-by have noted the buildings have recently shown advanced neglect and some vandalism, plus windows and doors have been removed, allowing access to the interior of the building. The City of Lamar recently posted notices on the front of the building stating that the process for removing it is in place.
The most recent houses that have been demolished are located on the north side of Lamar at 302 West Washington, several in the 600 block of North 8th Street, one in the 600 block of North 12th and another in the alleyway of West Washington Street. All that remains at this point is a vacant lot. The Lamar Fire Department plays an important role in the demolition as the buildings are brought down under a controlled fire which reduces the amount of debris that needs to be hauled away and provides a live training exercise for firefighters. There’s an estimated several dozen homes in Lamar on the demolition list, but their removal will be dictated by city finances.
By Russ Baldwin
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