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Freeport Pushing Ahead with Property Demolitions

Wednesday's knock down at 52 S. Louis will mark the fifth demolition in a month. City officials hope to demolish one structure a week until winter in an aggressive attempt to fight crime and declining property values.
We need people to actually fix things around here instead of letting them fall apart.
FREEPORT (WTVO) -- With broken windows everywhere, and a 2nd floor porch that could drop at any moment, the house at 52 South Morris is ready to fall. 

It's next on the list to be torn down in Freeport. The fifth house in a month to be demolished as the city hopes to reclaim the positive spirit in town.

"We need people to actually fix things around here instead of letting them fall apart," says Clayton Kraft, a neighbor who lives behind the house on Mary Lane.

Kraft knew the man who owned the house, he's glad the house is next to go.

"(He) just hasn't been around for about 10-15 years," Kraft says. "(He) kept paying taxes on it, but he just never did anything with it and let it fall apart."

City engineer Shaun Gallagher has been working at City Hall for a about a year, and he says it only takes one house to impact everyone.

"There's a lot of individual blocks that maybe have one bad house that's bringing down the neighborhood," says Gallagher. "We want to take care of that as quickly as possible."

Freeport is attacking the abandoned property problem, attempting to knock out one structure a week and have as many as three in the on deck circle.

"I know the mayor and I want to do a little bit more than that," says Gallagher. "But we're trying to do this work in-house to save cost and maximize our 100,000 dollar budget."

The aggressive nature of the city has lit a fire in the Pretzel City.

"We've been approached by many homeowners that would like to acquire the lot once the property is down," Gallagher said. "We're not just taking these down and they'll sit forever and ever, people want to reuse this land."

That's where Kraft says the city could improve.

"If they would start being a little more leniant about things as well, so that people can start the rebuilding process," says Kraft. "They're definitely doing the deconstruction, that's a very important first step. Now if they would let people actually rebuild, that would be great."
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