It’s not really over – Telescope Editorial

Viewpoint

Deb Hadachek – Telescope Editor
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

While the destruction of the Republic Hotel block in Belleville Monday was cause for great interest and comment, it’s likely that the demolition of downtown buildings is not over in Belleville, or other communities like it.

In Belleville, city fathers are worried about a half dozen other vacant properties downtown, including the old Peoples Bank building at the corner of 19th and M, the former laundromat at the corner of 19th and N, and the old car dealership/Main Street Station north on M. All of those properties, like the former bank/hardware building taken down Monday, are owned by John Moe of Lancaster, Calif. The city purchased the building at the corner of M and 18th from Moe in order to tear it down.

Crossroads Floral owner Deb Filipi found herself literally between a rock and a hard place in this chain of events. Her building, what many of us remember as the JC Penney’s building, was an operating business and likely didn’t pose a threat–except it shared walls with two vacant, deteriorating buildings. Fortunately, Belleville retained Crossroads Floral as an operating business in a new location. All told, the transactions to gain possession of the buildings and tear them down cost Belleville taxpayers somewhere north of $250,000. While we usually don’t have good thoughts about people who don’t pay their taxes, the final owner of the Hotel Republic, who let the property go at a delinquent tax sale, was kind to citizens in this case.

There are other vacant buildings on the north, west and south sides of the square in the hands of private owners that could pose the same problems. Belleville is not alone in this worry. Nearly every other town in the county has had to raze old abandoned structures or dog private citizens about cleaning up junkyards on their property. . It can be costly and time consuming and frustrating and embarrassing. The city was lucky that the buildings were removed without damage to other properties. Recently in Arlington, Nebr., a dilapidated building that was being removed fell on a post office–while people were working in the post office. Luckily no one was injured, but it does raise the spectre that unkempt properties can be more than just an eyesore. As distasteful as it is for city councils to swallow hard and use taxpayers’ money to get ownership of these buildings, this story is likely just the beginning of what it will take to save other downtown property owners the same headaches. Maybe by acting sooner, rather than later, some of them can be preserved like the historic wonders they once were.

Belleville is not alone in this worry. Nearly every other town in the county has had to raze old abandoned structures or dog private citizens about cleaning up junkyards on their property.  It can be costly and

It can be costly and time-consuming and frustrating and embarrassing.

The city was lucky that the buildings were removed without damage to other properties. Recently in Arlington, Nebr., a dilapidated building that was being removed fell on a post office–while people were working in the post office. Luckily no one was injured, but it does raise the spectre that unkempt properties can be more than just an eyesore.

As distasteful as it is for city councils to swallow hard and use taxpayers’ money to get ownership of these buildings, this story is likely just the beginning of what it will take to save other downtown property owners the same headaches.

Maybe by acting sooner, rather than later, some of them can be preserved like the historic wonders they once were.