11/12/2004 3:37:00 PM Making a dent in city's blight
Making a dent in city’s blight
While Robinson Chamber of Commerce has been giving out “Cardinal” awards for property improvement, the City of Robinson has been seeking likely candidates for what we might call the “buzzard” awards.
Condemnation proceedings have started this week for two more properties that have become eyesores, and city officials are to be commended for continuing to make this issue a priority. The city’s condemnation initiative began several years ago, and has resulted in either the demolition or, less often, the improvement of many blighted properties.
It’s a daunting job. You don’t have to drive too far down almost any street in Robinson to find a deteriorating or neglected property — often surrounded by well-maintained homes. Owners of the eyesores often can’t be found, don’t care or can’t afford to make improvements. What the city has addressed so far, even thought impressive, is really the tip of the iceberg.
Some would say, “Why not just live and let live? This is rural southeastern Illinois, after all — not a ritzy Chicago suburb.” Well, one reason is simple dollars and cents. Blighted properties mean lower property values for everyone in the neighborhood. While that may be okay at tax time, it may be frustrating when it comes time to sell your house.
Another reason is the “face” our community presents to those who might want to live here, or who might want to move a business here. Put it this way: If you were a local economic-development official showing prospects around town, where would you take them? Where would you not take them? The unfortunate fact is that before you have a chance to show them what you want them to see, they’ve probably already seen the good and the bad for themselves, anyway.
And health and safety issues can’t be ignored. Neglected or abandoned properties attract animals and other pests, and can be a tempting and dangerous playground for local children.
The city’s emphasis on targeting blighted properties and taking them through the condemnation process shows that someone does care, even if the property owner does not. And it shows those who might want to locate here that while we still have a long way to go, Robinson is at least going in the right direction in making our city a better place to live.