Texarkana, Texas, soon will focus cleanup efforts on the Beverly neighborhood, demolishing nine condemned buildings there over three weeks beginning May 1.
The plan is part of the city's Neighborhood Specific Demolition Initiative, which is meant to concentrate cleanup work for maximum effect.
Structures to be demolished are 708 and 607 Wilson St. the first week; 614, 705, 715 and 809 Melton St. the second week; and 807, 714 and 602 Jerome St. the third week.
"Removing these substandard structures is yet another step towards improving our city and keeping our residents safe," Public Works Director Dustin Henslee said in a news release. "In the past couple of years, we have brought down around 80 substandard structures in our city, which is good progress, but there is still so much to be done. We are excited to see the huge improvement this neighborhood specific demolition work will make in a small area."
While demolitions are welcome, they are only one step in revitalizing the area, said Tylesha Ross, president of Believe in Beverly Neighborhood Association.
"Tearing down homes will help, but until slumlords step up and take responsibility, more houses will end up being on this list.
"Beverly homeowners need help with repairs of their homes, but if they don't utilize the help that is out there or even contact their association, the city has done their part, and so have we," Ross said, adding that many of the owners of the buildings have had numerous opportunities to avoid demolition.
During May, Street Department crews will also clean alleys, rights of way and city-owned lots in the area. The city will take the opportunity to "educate residents on their responsibilities," the release stated.
"Our Code Enforcement officers will be out looking for junk vehicles, overgrown weed lots and litter violations. We want to help residents understand the ordinances of the city and how it might relate to their property.
"For instance, it's important to note that property owners are responsible for maintaining all alleyways unless they are paved," said Mashell Daniel, director of code enforcement and inspections.
Residents are encouraged to take part in the cleanup process.
"We want to invite Beverly residents to take a special interest in cleaning up this spring. This is the perfect time for the neighborhood association, and individual residents to work hand in hand with the city to make real improvement in this neighborhood. We need everyone's help," said David Orr, director of planning and community development.
The city has completed a total of 84 demolitions in various parts of the city, 40 of which were determined to be priority properties by the City Council, the release stated.
For more information, call Lisa Thompson, communication and economic development manager, at 903-798-1743.
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