The Walls Have Tumbled


Early Demolition

Early Demolition

Several weeks ago, Students from the One Step Up project at the Lincoln School HOPE Center, voiced concerns about abandoned houses when they hosted a lunch visit for some Lamar City Council members and staff.

Hope House Tear Down (2)

Several students were working on a Photo Voice photograph project about their activities in the city and had been submitting pictures of derelict buildings in their neighborhoods, and wanted to know if the city could do something about the situation.  Emily Neischburg, director of LiveWell Prowers County, invited some council members as guests to discuss potential improvements that directly related to a student beautification program.   The students mentioned one abandoned house that was just several hundred feet from Lincoln School on North 10th  Street, almost opposite their community garden project.

Hope House Tear Down (3)

Weeds had overrun the front yard of the house which had no front door or working windows and was strewn with every kind of debris and garbage over weeks and months.  Vagrants would use the house as a crash pad, vandals would create damage and it had been feared that drug users had also used the place.  HOPE director, Lori Hammer, noted that a severed pig’s head was found on the property.

Debris and Trash Fill the Living Room Floor of Derelict House

Debris and Trash Fill the Living Room Floor of Derelict House

Mayor Roger Stagner, City Administrator John Sutherland, students and council members visited the site and assessed their situation, noting that if the house contained asbestos, it could cost several thousand dollars for an abatement project.  Pat Mason, Public Works Director, said he had spoken with the local owner who was positive the house had no asbestos which would lower the cost of demolition.

Well, the house is history.  The City of Lamar and the owner got together and found a workable solution in which the owner would take most of the house down himself and haul it away, using some services from the city for the larger, knock-down project for the walls and chimney.

The immediate plans for the property are still in the works, but it is being cleared of debris and weeds and the hope is, grass seeds will be planted to provide an open area for the neighborhood, connecting to the city’s tree farm.

Hammer and Neischburg said this was an excellent example of a win-win-win situation.  Especially for the students who are being shown they have a mind for ideas and a voice that can be heard to develop a better community.

By Russ Baldwin

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