Pulaski County is getting its blight elimination efforts back up and running. Building Inspector Doug Hoover told the county commissioners Monday that grant funding is available from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to buy and tear down blighted buildings.
Hoover and his assistant Chance Blankenship have identified one condemned house in Medaryville to be demolished as part of the program. “First of all, we don’t want to pay money to the homeowner,” Hoover said. “This guy’s actually giving it to us. He’s just turning it over.”
Blankenship added, “A lot of people don’t want to lose their land. They don’t want the house there, put they also don’t want to relinquish their property.”
The county commissioners approved a purchase agreement for the house Monday, with the county paying the $582 owed in back taxes. In this case, Pulaski County will get a $25,000 grant to cover demolition costs. Hoover said the Town of Medaryville has agreed to disconnect water and sewer utilities to the site.
The next step will be to advertise for demolition bids. Once the house is torn down, the county plans to donate the land to Starke/Pulaski Habitat for Humanity to potentially build a new home on the site.
Hoover said he was unaware of the grant opportunity when he took over as building inspector last year. “I think it’s a good thing,” he told the commissioners. “I wish we got on board earlier, but this was back with David Weber and David Dare, and we were caught behind the eight-ball. When I walked in, even Quentin, at the time that was working there, didn’t know anything about it.”
Blankenship added the delay has cost Pulaski County some grant opportunities. “We had seven, basically, slots for homes that we can put in there, and it’s kind of been so long and we’re not filling the slots as fast as we’re losing homes that don’t want to do it,” he said. “So we’re kind of losing some of those slots, so we’re going to probably be down to four or five instead of seven here pretty soon because we’re just not tearing any houses down.”
Blankenship and Hoover expect the demolition process to be relatively quick, but note this is their first project.