Building Conditions in Blackford County Cause Concern

Published 05/15 2014 02:36PM

Updated 05/15 2014 06:36PM

We are continuing to follow a story out of Blackford County. An old building in Downtown Hartford City is falling apart and causing concern for public safety. 

City leaders say that isn't the only commercial building in similar condition and there are even more homes that are an eyesore.

WFFT sent WFFT's Charnae Davenport back to the area to find out why there are so many buildings, residential and commercial in poor condition

Blackford County is home to just over 12,000 residents making it one of the smaller counties in the state.  Because of their size, their government offices lack certain departments for example, designated building inspectors.  City leaders say its a problem they have been forced to work around for years.

"They work 2 or 3 days a week and then quit."

Hartford city resident Sheldon King lives next to what used to be a home.  He says since the owners walked away, its only been a pain.

"All kind of stuff coming out of the house, rodents, trash and they just pile it up outside."

King is frustrated with the way the city handles blighted homes.

"We're doing the best we can we just would like to see others clean up their own areas."

Jon Creek is Chair of Build a Better Blackford and a member of their local Unsafe Building Committee.

"Take a little while because we don't have the funds to take down all the houses at one time."

In the 165 square miles of the county, Hartford City Officials say there are about 100 blighted homes.  The City currently has rights to tear down about 26, but it's a slow process.

"Actually working on the deconstruction of the house, we usually don't have but 4 or 5 people maybe 6 or 7 on some projects."

An average of 5 volunteers tear down blighted homes by hand because demolition is too expensive.

"It'd be nice if we had more volunteers willing to clean up their areas and others."

Just across the street is a crumbling building from the 1800's.  The building hasn't been groomed for years and there aren't any local representatives to make sure it's been up to code.

Unlike Blackford, Allen County has a population around 360,000 and a fully staffed building department.

However, since Blackford County is so small, the State assumes those roles.  Jennifer Lorenzen with Blackford County Economic Development says moving forward, they will have to crack down on commercial building owners.

"We're going to make the rules a little more stringent and go forward."

City leaders who say without the proper funding, their hands are tied.

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