By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – City Council discussion Monday on city-owned apartments turned from property management responsibility to wondering how long it will take to remove debris from 100 units razed more than a month ago.
Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis informed council members July 18 that demolition had started to remove 14 buildings at Azalea Gardens, the same day an informal agreement was reached for the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation to accept property management responsibility for the property purchased for $2.15 million in April.
“We need to get that picked up pretty quick,” Council President Mike Bryan said of the debris. “I saw people out there looting the other day.”
The city purchased the blighted property with a history of crime in hopes of turning the area around.
Construction companies have a week from today to bid on debris removal, allowing work to begin Sept. 3, the day after the City Council plans to approve a contract.
That’s also the day that a contract is expected to be approved for the Neighborhood Development Corporation to assume responsibility for the property’s management.
Mayor Jason Shelton said after the work session that the length of time between demolition and debris pickup at the Ida Street property was unfortunate. However, the lengthy wait is better than leaving the buildings standing, the mayor said.
“It was a hazard to public health and safety,” he said.
City Planner Pat Falkner said four more of the apartment buildings likely will be demolished.