Shifting out of neutral

In March the New Albany Board of Alderman took the first step in improving the appearance and livability of our neighborhoods. The board told owners of four properties to bulldoze their dilapidated structures within 60 days or the city would do it at their expense.

The board also indicated it would look at the situation monthly and would add more properties to the list to be torn down or repaired.
That was then. It is now nearly September and only three of the four structures are gone. A technical error in the letter to E & E Enterprises (John Ellis) has allowed a delay in demolition of the structure at 405 Broad St., according to New Albany Mayor Tim Kent.
As we understand it, the board has not ordered any more of the city’s falling-down structures and eyesores to be removed. In short, the city’s ambitious plan to deal with messy situations that make parts of the city unattractive to visitors and residents alike has come almost to a standstill.
We understand there are extenuating circumstances. Herman Lesley, assistant to building inspector Mike Armstrong, has been out with open-heart surgery. The office deals with building inspections, permits for construction and remodeling, and flood-plain management.
But even under the best circumstances, an ambitious code enforcement program will require more help.
There are many properties—commercial, residential and rental residential—that need attention. Some neighborhoods continue to suffer from blight that contributes to a decline in property values.
We need to move forward more quickly. To do that, we urge Mayor Kent and the board to make employment of a full-time code-enforcement officer a high priority in the new city budget, to be adopted by Sept. 15.