One of the most pressing issues for towns like Wheeling is how to deal with rundown homes and buildings. There is only a limited amount of public money available for the acquisition and demolition of property, and the legal process offers many protections to owners when it comes to forcing them to tear down a structure.
West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey may have an answer, however, as he advocates for the “Community Resurrection and Economic Development Act.” A bill establishing the law is expected to be introduced in the Legislative Assembly this session.
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s impossible for cities to keep up” with dilapidated properties, McCuskey said Thursday in Wheeling. “If they can’t solve the problem all at once, it doesn’t happen.”
The bill advocates a new approach. Instead of dealing with dilapidated properties individually, McCuskey said it allows properties to be managed in pieces.
The legislation calls for $30 million from cities and counties to demolish buildings that cannot be saved.
The state would also encourage buildings that can be salvaged, giving owners options to repair their structures and return them to service.
Currently in Wheeling, there are approximately 75 properties slated for demolition.
Mayor Glenn Elliott said he welcomes the idea because it would give Wheeling a chance to help clean up the city’s entry points.
“You only get one chance to make a good impression,” Elliott said. “If it’s someone’s first time in town, it’s not a good way to say, ‘Hey, welcome to Wheeling.’
“We have to do a great job of cleaning our entrances in and out of town.”
McCuskey may be onto something here, as he noted that every town in the state has at least 50 run-down properties on the books. Any help possible to remedy this situation would be appreciated.