City Council Seeks Funding to Demolish Vacant Buildings

- ROCKFORD (WTVO) -- Boarded up and broken down, 11th Ward Aldermen Karen Elyea knows all too well about Rockford's vacant building problem.

"Right in the block where I live, there are two properties in particular that have been boarded up," Elyea said. "There's bums that live in them, there's prostitution that happens there, it's really bad. it's been that way since I moved in 9 years ago."

Elyea says there could be 200 houses that should be torn down in her ward.

"Almost every week, I ask for those properties to be torn down," Elyea said. "I get so frustrated because if I can't even get something done in my own block and I get call from so many people who have the same thing on their block, it's just terrible."

"We've budgeted this year to tear down 22 to 25 homes," says Todd Cagnoni, Director of Community & Economic Development. "We're well on track to finish that before the year is out."

City Council would like to invest more than the current $230,000 allotment for demolitions, whether it's house on the westside or a building right in the middle of downtown. But officials at City Hall says its hands are tied by state law.

"The state statute that gives municipalities the authority to tear down unsecure properties is related to the safety of the building not the secondary effects that come along with distressed properties," Elyea said.

Those effects are the reasons that has Elyea pushing hard to knock 'em down.

"Just trying to convince some of the other alderman, their wards, maybe are starting to have the problem," Elyea said. "We should really address it now before you know we've got eight aldermen that are pleading for something to be done."

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