The region will use ARPA funds to clean up disturbing properties

The region will use ARPA funds to clean up disturbing properties

Jefferson County will soon be a little cleaner, thanks to a $250,000 commitment from the County Council to address nuisance properties.

“I’d say there are about 100 buildings in the (unincorporated) county that need to be demolished at any given time,” he said. “Some were damaged in fires, while others are simply succumbing to age, with crumbling foundations, roofs collapsing, and other issues.”

The County Council voted unanimously on April 25 to commit funds from the $43.7 million in ARPA funds that the county will receive over the next two years to clean up some of the county’s many problem properties. Eric Larson, Director of County Services, stated.

“Then we have hundreds of other properties where things are not as bad. Sometimes the building just needs a door or window boarded up,” he said. “Many of them have trash and debris on the property, and then you’ve got abandoned vehicles. Almost all of them have overgrown weeds.”

“The budget usually includes about $20,000 a year for nuisance eradication, which allows us to address four or five off our list,” he said. “We try to take care of the most dangerous ones, or the ones that have been on the list for a long time.”

Larson said his office fields about 400 calls a year about nuisance properties, but historically, the county has lacked the resources to deal with most of them.

The ARPA funding, Larson said, will cut into that list quite a bit.

“That quarter million should allow us to take care of 30 or 35 of the projects on the list, depending on how bids come in for the work. If we can do more because the bids are lower than we’ve estimated, we’ll do more,” he said. “If the bids are higher, we might not get to as many. But we’re going to address as many of these concerns as we can.”

Larson said the priority list for the ARPA funds is spread throughout the county. “There are a couple of houses north of Jefferson College in Hillsboro we’d like to get demolished,” he said. “There’s a mobile home park in Dittmer that we’d like to be able to clean up that’s been a problem for some time. In Imperial, there are abandoned yards off the beaten path that have a lot of junk in them that need to be cleaned up.”

Larson said the list was developed by considering public safety and how long the land has been on the nuisance list. “If it’s a burned-out house that’s in a neighborhood where there are teenagers or young adults or other curious people, we want to take that down as soon as possible,” he said. “We’ll try to get to as many as we can, but I can say this money will make a big difference over the next year and a half.”

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