New Albany man questions city’s policy on condemning homes

Harold Gibbs, a resident in the Southside Neighborhood, is concerned about the numerous condemned houses in New Albany, specifically in the Southside and Northside neighborhoods.

“A lot of the people that used to live in these houses have passed on and the families don’t want to take care of the property. There’s a house that I lived in in the ‘80s and nobody has lived in it since and now it is overgrown with trees. I want to know, ‘Why are these houses are still standing and why isn’t the city concerned about tearing these houses down?’”
Gibbs said that his son had bought a house at the end of Martin Street and as of Nov. 2010, he was told by City Building Inspector Mike Armstrong that it needed to be condemned for various reasons.
Gibbs said, “My son bought it last year and we were going to work on it slowly and fix it up, but Mike Armstrong ran in and condemned it. We were going to make it look like a cabin back here. We cleaned it out, we cleaned the old seals out and were planning on putting new seals in.”
Gibbs said that the city told him that either the house would be torn down and that would be charged to Gibbs’s son or the city will force them to tear it down.
“My point is, what is the big hurry when there are so many houses that have been condemned for 15 or 16 years and have trees growing around the houses and covering them up or are growing inside the houses? The city is forcing my son to tear this house down and I believe that I can really fix it up,” said Gibbs.
He said that Armstring pointed out a lot of things that needed to be fixed.
“My son still owns the property even if the city comes and tears the house down. We were going to fix it up, get it rewired, do some carpentry work, etc. It will stay condemned until the city decides what they are going to do with it. I don’t know what my son is going to do, put a little money in this or if Mike is going to let us fix it up. I am not going to put more money in this if he won’t let me fix it up,” said Gibbs.
“‘If the city has that kind of power, how come they don’t condemn that house right in front of me that has been up there 15 or 16 years with the roof falling in? At least I am trying to do something, but I don’t think they are doing anything. I should have the right to say that I want to tear it down or fix it up. Give me an opportunity to do it instead of running it here and tell me what I am going to do,” said Gibbs.
Many of these condemned houses are located on Bumcomb, Standish, Martin, North, and Forest Heights Streets.
Gibbs said, “I think people in this community needs to be concerned about what they have and take care of their property and be proud of what they own or where they live. When people start caring more, things will get better.”