HOISINGTON — Since last April, the city of Hoisington has torn down two blighted houses, is accepting bids for the tear down of three more, and the police department has issued 70 property improvement requests for junked vehicles, all in an effort to reduce city blight.
In addition, the city is currently working with eight or nine homeowners and one garage owner to determine if the situation can be resolved without the city tearing them down.
Two downtown properties have also been deemed unsafe or unfit. Don Doerschlag, city code enforcement officer, said that the old barber shop was deemed unfit, but the city purchased it, and is repairing for use by the new business that is coming to town, Kindscher’s Mule Barn. Another property, the Office, has been deemed unfit or unsafe.
"The response has been positive," said Doerschlag. "People will come and say, "I’m glad you’ve taken care of that.""
The program has been so successful that Doerschlag’s hours are being doubled to 20 hours per week in January.
The process of establishing that a property is dangerous and unsafe is a long drawn-out process, explained Doerschlag. Numerous hearings, letters and inspections of the property are done.
"The goal is to get people to take care of their stuff," he said, "so we can have a better more enjoyable town.
And a lot of people have complied on their own, said Jonathan Mitchell, city manager. "The neighbors are grateful.
"We are doing more than in years past," said Mitchell. "We’ve got a lot of work left to do."
"Ideally, we work with the property owner to correct it themselves," he said.
"We felt our community was much more prosperous than it appears," said Mitchell as. "Some people don’t take care of their property. It is prevalent throughout the state."
So, the decision was made by the city to actively pursue blight.
It’s an opportunity to make Hoisington look more attractive to business prospects and also for individuals looking to relocate families.
Homeowners aren’t off scot-free. If the city demolishes a building, they will send a bill to the property owner, Mitchell said. If the bill is not paid in 30 days, the fee will be assessed through property taxes.