Muskogee Working On Plan To Demolish Condemned Homes

Wednesday, February 12th 2014, 7:10 pm
By: Craig Day

The city of Muskogee is considering an aggressive plan to demolish hundreds of dilapidated and condemned houses. The city said it would help to wipeout a backlog of derelict houses that grows larger every year.

The city of Muskogee has enough money in its annual budget to demolish about 50 condemned homes each year.

What's prompting the new strategy, is there are hundreds of homes on the list that either need to be fixed up, or torn down.

City leaders in Muskogee said there are far too many homes that are neglected, falling apart, and condemned. They're unsightly, and often unsanitary and unsafe.

City Manager, Howard Brown, said, "When they're dilapidated, they create an attractive nuisance for children."

But with an estimated 500 condemned houses that need to be demolished, the city is developing a new strategy to eliminate the backlog.

It's still being drafted, but basically includes pursuing a $1 million grant from the city of Muskogee foundation to get caught up.

The city would have to match it with another one million dollars, likely coming through a low interest loan, or by extending a sales tax, which would have to be approved by voters.

"Our whole objective is to achieve voluntary compliance, in the event we don't receive voluntary compliance, our next step is unfortunate, to demolish the property," Brown said.

He said it's an issue that needs to be addressed.

"At the end of the day, we're charged with making sure we carry out the health, safety and welfare of the city," Brown said.

The city goes through a lengthy condemnation process which can take a year before a house is demolished, giving property owners time to appeal or make improvements.

There's even a program that has spent $3 million to help property owners make improvements to avoid demolition altogether.

Another portion of the new plan would be using $300,000 to fund incentives to encourage residential fill in development, once a house is demolished.

"If everything moves forward as planned, the city of Muskogee could move forward with its demolition of condemned houses this summer.