WEST ELKTON — Village Council discussed efforts to deal with blighted and damaged properties during its regular monthly meeting Monday, Sept. 14
Councilman Gary Thompson first presented a draft of a letter to be distributed to residents concerning efforts to beautify the village during council’s June 2019 meeting. The letter informed residents that owners of properties felt to be in serious disrepair or in need of clean-up would be issued a 30-day notice before possibly receiving a citation.
“We’re hoping to inspire people to want to help out on their own, rather than coming on in an aggressive or condescending way,” Thompson said at that time
Mayor Gevella Wilt expressed similar sentiments.
“Things happen,” Wilt said. “People start taking care of their parents and don’t have time to finish projects. We understand that.”
Wilt stressed that it is the responsibility of property owners, and not the village, to keep privately owned structures in good repair, however.
Council took a walking tour of the village following last Monday’s meeting, according to Thompson, during which they took photographs of “probably four or five” offending properties. The village may hold a special meeting in the near future, Thompson said, in order to approve and send out another letter warning residents of the possible consequences of non-compliance.
“This is something we’re pretty eager to get moving on,” Thompson said. Though precise details have yet to be worked out, owners of blighted properties would likely be given between 10 and 30 days to make improvements, according to Thompson.
At that point fines can be imposed, and if left unpaid the village can contact the county auditor and have those fines assessed against the resident’s property taxes.
Thompson also addressed concerns about the recent closure of West Elkton Intermediate School.
Preble Shawnee School District Board of Education members voted to close the facility prior to the start of the 202o-21 school year, citing $460,000 in yearly savings to the district and the need to cut costs following the closing of all public schools in Ohio due to COVID-19, cuts to state education funding announced by Gov. Mike DeWine, and the failure of this year’s general operations levy.
Council has spoken out against the closure in the past, saying it would deprive West Elkton of income tax funding, as well as lead to yet another potential blight on the community if the building is abandoned and left to decay by the school district. Concerns have also been raised about costs associated with the building’s toilet facilities being passed on to village residents.
“We’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on it,” Thompson said of the now uninhabited structure, saying that as far as he knows no vandalism has taken place. “Some teenage boys got in and the sheriff was called, but there was no damage.”
Village Council meetings take place the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the West Elkton Municipal Building, located at 135 N. Main St.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish