Tilson: Albany has demolished 184 structures

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Call him the demolition man.

While Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson may fall a wee bit short of Sylvester Stallone's character in the 1993 film "Demolition Man," he and his staff are no less effective at bringing down dilapidated or blighted structures.

Since being tasked with removing blighted property or bringing it back up to code four years ago, Tilson and the city's Code Enforcement Department have partnered with the city attorney's office, public works and the fire department to see 184 structures razed.

Of those, 131 were undertaken by the city through court-ordered demolitions with 53 done by property owners.

Another 75 structures have been repaired and brought back up to modern building codes, Tilson said.

While Tilson and his officers enforce all of the city's municipal ordinances, it's the demolition processes that receive most of the attention. After all, people tend to notice when 13 tons of court-ordered progress knocks down the shotgun house next door.

And while most say that a clear lot looks better than a run-down vacant shack, Tilson says it's about more than just looks.

"It's a crime issue, its an economic development issues; it's about more than just the aesthetics," he said. "When one of these vacant buildings goes down, it's one less place criminals can congregate or vagrants can occupy."

But all the homewrecking doesn't come cheap. Seven months into the FY2011, Tilson has already exceeded his $150,000 demolition budget by $47,000 and will depend on a $500,000 set-aside from the Albany City Commission to finish out the year.

And two big fish are still in play.

The former Heritage House hotel on Oglethorpe Boulevard and the former Pritchett Ford Car dealership on Slappey Boulevard are each performance goals set by City Manager Alfred Lott for Tilson this year.

In his report to the city commission Tuesday, Tilson shed a little light on some of the other work his office had been doing over the past four years.

By the numbers, Tilson said that Code Enforcement has performed 34,400 inspections, put red tags on 4,200 junk cars, and posted 3,750 high weeds and grass notices. Code Enforcement reviewed 4,200 applications for business licenses, subpoenaed 4,600 for municipal court, processed 26,000 false alarm ordinance violations and has cleared 392, or 81 percent, of municipal court's outstanding warrants.