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Rockford Garbage Surplus Could Boost Demolition Funding

Aldermen are considering a plan to move surplus funds from a garbage collection contract that would add nearly a half billion dollars to demolition funding, tripling the number of houses knocked down in 2014.
There's 2,000 houses that have been identified that need to be demolished.
ROCKFORD (WTVO) -- The Forest City has a few buildings that need to come down

"There's 2,000 houses that have been identified that need to be demolished," 10th Ward Alderman Frank Beach said.

The city will use a little more than $203,000 in federal grant money to knock down vacant homes in 2014.The problem is that covers a little less than two dozen structures.

"What is very clear is that only $200,000 a year is put aside, and it costs $10,000 roughly to tear one down, you're really not going to make a dent in this thing for years and years and years," said Beach.

Aldermen are considering moving surplus money from a garbage collection contract, that would add $500,000 for demolitions. Another idea is to use more money from the Community Development Block Grant that already provides the finances to demolish vacant buildings. The total grant varies but annually is around $2 million.

"The flexibility is certainly there," Beach said of the grant the city has applied for and received each year since 1974. "It's just not been done in the past and as we dug it out and took a look at the regulations its very clear it can be done and I think the alderman are kind of look at it that way."

"If the council wants to look at expanding the number of demolitions that we do, with the finances that we have, utilizing the budget that we have, we have to look at creative ways within our budget to utilize other resources of the budget if we're going to expand the demolition process," said 4th Ward Alderman Kevin Frost.

City Council knows that one way or another, knocking down vacant buildings can pave the way for new ones.

"If demolition is a priority, then we have to provide the funds in some way or another to move more of these homes down to the ground and get on to redevelopment," said Beach.

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