Despite assurances from a property owner that most of the properties were going to be rehabilitated, the Great Bend City Council Tuesday night adopted resolutions declaring several structures as unsafe and dangerous and directed that the structures be razed.
Included were six structures at 815 Madison, 817 Madison, 819 Madison, 823 Madison and 3000 Gano (all owned by Keith and Jaunita Reimer of Great Bend), and 100 Walnut, (owned by James Hsiao of Arcadia, Calif.). The action came after a public hearing on the properties.
The owners have until Oct. 8 to demolish the buildings. If the deadline is not met, the city will arrange the demolition and charge the cost back to the property owners’ taxes.
Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker said this action is just the latest in a long-running issue. He’s been in touch with the Reimers since April who have promised to clean the properties, and he’s had difficultly contacting Hsiao.
Baker said all the homes had broken windows, and were open to the elements and to trespassers. Many had missing doors, and most were filled with trash, including mattresses and other debris.
The council set the hearing date when it met July 21.
But, Baker said Keith Reimer called him Tuesday and had submitted a letter of intent to renovate houses over the next two years. In fact, he had used sheets of plywood to board up most of the open windows and doors.
Nonetheless, “they’re still very dilapidated structures,” Baker said.
Plus, council members were not satisfied with the two-year time line. “You have to do something now,” Councilwoman Allene Owen said.
Other neighborhood residents don’t want to live next to run-down properties, she said. Besides, “a lot can happen in two years.”
“I intend to get it done quicker,” Reimer said. He’s had some financial problems and is trying to secure financing so he can proceed.
“I feel they can be fixed up,” he said, adding they are as good as some of the other buildings in the area. The houses are little more than gutted shells and Reimer said he figures it would cost about $15,000 each to renovate them.
After the remodeling, Reimer said he intended to turn around and sell them.
Mayor Mike Allison said no matter what Reimer does, they will remain “slum properties.”
In the interim, the plywood may keep kids from playing in the structures and keep out vermin, but they are still targets for squatters and those cooking methamphetamine, Owen said.
The city had not heard from Hsiao in regards to his property.