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Blight fight declared

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, center, walks with Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike, right, while Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard, left, looks at the side of Mamil Brosnan School on North Monroe Street. The building was one of several city and county officials looked at Friday on the mayor’s tour of blighted property.

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, center, walks with Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike, right, while Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard, left, looks at the side of Mamil Brosnan School on North Monroe Street. The building was one of several city and county officials looked at Friday on the mayor’s tour of blighted property.

ALBANY — Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard took the first steps Friday in honoring a promise made while campaigning for the mayor’s office by taking a group of local officials and city staff members on a bus tour throughout the county making note of blighted properties.

The bus tour is the first volley in what Hubbard has labeled her war on slums and blight and comes as the city is just days away from its single largest weekend event.

“When it comes to slum and blight, we always talk about it, but today we saw it. It’s alive and well,” Hubbard said.

Joining Hubbard Friday were Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, city and county commissioners, Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Director Judy Bowles and city staff members.

The stops on the tour included Kitty’s Flea Market, Main Street Estates on Clark Avenue which was formerly Mimosa Trailer Park, the Heritage House Hotel, the former Mamil Brosnan School on North Monroe, the former Shoney’s restaurant off Tallulah Drive, a scrap yard on Newton Road, and the former school on the 600 block of West Broad Avenue.

While the city has taken an increasingly aggressive stance on demolishing blighted properties — currently 230 open blight demolition cases are pending before the city’s Municipal Court — Hubbard said she understands that, ultimately, the best way to eliminate eyesores is through cooperation.

“Those people who own the blighted property ... we do not want to have to take any action against them. We really want to get their cooperation. We want to work together, we want to work with them in cleaning it up,” Hubbard said. “We want the legal part of it to be a last resort.”

And while the property owners are ultimately responsible for their own property, Hubbard said she hopes bringing awareness to blight removal and launching an anti-litter campaign will foster a degree of community-wide pride.

“It’s an economic development thing and it’s a community thing. We have people coming into our city and we need to clean it up so that people know we care,” Hubbard said. “I want every single person in this community to have pride in their community and have pride where they live.”

“One of the easiest ways to do that, is if you see paper on the street or in your yard, pick it up,” Hubbard said. “I know you didn’t put it there, but I’m asking you to pick it up.”

Sinyard, who has been active in working with the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission in recruiting businesses to Albany and Dougherty County, said, litter and blight is something that hinders efforts to create jobs.

“Yes, in our community we have some priorities that are much bigger than (blight removal) ... but in the scheme of things, if you’re a company wanting to locate here, or you’re a company that does business here or you’re just a citizen, having blight and having trash and having a nasty community is something that is critically important in terms of trying to make it better,” Sinyard said.

“I think this tour today, that the mayor has put together, is very helpful and will allow us to work very closely with the city and our code enforcement to make sure that we start getting some of these clean-ups and property owners who have ignored those properties to court and get things done,” he said.

The city has often hit roadblocks when it comes to bringing legal action against derelict property owners because it can be difficult to track who owns a certain piece of property if that person lives out of state, has died, or is part of a larger investment group or firm outside of the state.

That’s the case at Mimosa Trailer Park on Clark Avenue, a place Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said Friday, he wishes he could “just blow up.”

“It’s frustrating because we spend time and effort and money taking these property owners to court and then they’ll sell it to someone else, and because of the way the law is, we have to start over with the new property owner,” Howard said. “This place used to be Mimosa Trailer Park. Now it’s Main Street Estates and it’s still ugly as sin and we still have prostitutes and drug dealers wandering around.”

As the bus made its way around Dougherty County, phrases such as “blight tax” — a legal mechanism that allows governments to triple the property taxes on blighted properties — and “cite them” — referring to Code Enforcement’s ability to issue citations, were overheard.

At the end of the tour, Hubbard made it clear that the city will use any and all tools at its disposal to hold property owners and literers accountable for blighted property.

“We have ordinances at the state and local level for littering. We have legal actions we can take for blighted property,” Hubbard said. “We want those to be the last resort, but we’ve got to fix this problem. It’s about pride, it’s about crime, it’s about improving our quality of life.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2oj7OBaFyU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Comments

MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

THESE PROPERTIES HAVE BEEN IN DEPLORABLE CONDITION FOR YEARS, SO I CAN ONLY CONSIDER THIS BUS RIDE A PHOTO OP AND FACE TIME IN FRONT OF A NEWS CAMERA. CAN THE MAYOR TELL EVERYONE WHAT ACTIONS SHE TOOK AS A COMMISSIONER FOR SEVERAL YEARS? NOTHING NEW HERE, JUST THE SAME OLD SMOKE BLOWING.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 1 month ago

Sure this was a photo-op, BUT let’s give The New Mayor a chance to show she is NOT doing “JUST THE SAME OLD SMOKE BLOWING”. Hopefully she can build on this photo-op for more public awareness and make some serious progress. Sadly it was noted two of the properties belonged to DCSS. What is the excuse for DCSS having two Blighted Buildings?

Hopefully JD will post monthly progress reports on Albany’s Blight. KEEP the Heat on and maybe just maybe we will see results.

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dingleberry 2 years, 1 month ago

Broad St school belongs to Capitol City Bank, see post below. Capitol City also now owns a number of pieces of property on Highland, immediately behind the Heritage House, that did belong to Romeau Comeau, principal in Greenbrier, and used as security for a HH loan. If not careful, taxpayers may get hung with those dogs too as part of the general HH area cleanup.

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tocar 2 years, 1 month ago

Albany has allots of blighted properties. I hope that our Mayor will show that she is serious about cleaning up our city. We as citizens need to do our part in not littering and cleaning up around our own personal residences. There are many who do not bother to clean up around their own door and it makes their respective neighborhood look bad and unsafe. There are those who are just lazy and don't care. If their yards and the exterior of their homes look bad, then can you imagine the unsanitary conditions inside. This is an invitation for burglars, rodents and anything else you can think of. We need to be responsible!

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dingleberry 2 years, 1 month ago

The old Broad Street school, formerly owned by Romeo Comeau of Heritage House fame, is now owned by Capitol City Bank who took it over on a foreclosure in Nov 2011.

Make Capitol City clean it up. When derelict property is owned by those who have the money to pay for the cleanup, pump up the pressure and make it happen.

Until we start holding feet to the fire, those who can pay to care for property won't pay when it is not in their financial interest. In this case, Capitol City made a bad loan and got caught with its saggers down. OK, Dorothy, quit looking for Toto, we ain't in Kansas anymore, and let's talk about some pressure on the owners, not the taxpayers for a change.

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whattheheck 2 years, 1 month ago

I believe the Mamie Brosnan building is still owned by the DCSS. Is this another of the "Do as I say" situations?

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 1 month ago

They wanted to tear it down years ago when they made McIntosh the new Lincoln Magnet School... but the "Hysterical (historical) Society" wouldnt let them.

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whattheheck 2 years, 1 month ago

Looks to me like the Mimosa MHP is still owned by those who bought it in 12/2009. While it may have undergone a name change in terms of operation, it is still owned by a company out of Delray Beach FL. I think we are confusing name changes for the leesee, not the owners.

Have the city attorney do some attorney work. I am not sure changes in ownership are the problem. Rather, this may be the excuse for the problem.

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 1 month ago

Somebody just needs to blow them up!!! They are very ugly, and I hope the Mayor can get something done.

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whattheheck 2 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps a little drastic, Coach, but then things are pretty bad, aren't they? It's going to take more than the Mayor, like really getting tough on property owners. In the past, it seems we weren't too interested in making owners pay the price--but it is time to get moving in that direction.

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 1 month ago

Its actually embarrasing.....How many cities in SW Georgia have as many disgusting looking buildings per square foot than Albany?

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Amazed2 2 years, 1 month ago

I thought the mayors race was over?? The mayor has been in the political arena here in Albany/Do County for quite a while so did she just all of the sudden notice this issue. HEck nobody can fix anything up because it might be a historical building or something. A few years back a building owner with a 2 story apartment building I think down around Monroe and FLint or Tift area tried to fix/repair the building but he was ordered to stop work after he had invested in new doors and window and was working on the building to put it back into a liveable condition BUT he was stopped by the City and the historical society cause he was using modern doors and window. Guess what the guy followed orders and stopped and guess what it reverted back to a blighted crack house and the City of Albany eventually PAID to have it demolished and hauled to the dump. Other issue now days is you work on it during the day and the local thieves come in at night and steal the copper and building materials. Like Willie's signs say "Welcome to ALbany".

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Chimmeree 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you, Amazed. Many property owners have tried to repair these houses and buildings just to be ripped off of their materials time after time. The City of Albany needs to get on the job and get these Crack house shut down. They see you working in the day and they hit you up after dark and steal everything you spent your hard earned money on. I propose it City of Albany put Officers on night duty to watch the properties being repaired every night til the job is finished. Our taxes are paid for law enforcement but the law is not being enforced. Blight is always a problem in drug infested areas. I think it is time for the City of Albany to do some cleaning up and get these criminals off our streets.

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