MARTINS FERRY - The City of Martins Ferry recently received a grant of $110,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
That money is already being put to use as the first of 10 dilapidated and abandoned houses within the city are being torn down.
''Ten is a good start,'' said Martins Ferry Code Administrator Betty Sutto. ''We're trying to make the town look better.
Demolition crews begin tearing down a house at 829 N. 6th Street in Martins Ferry.
The houses at the following 10 addresses are scheduled to be demolished:
Receiving the funding was key. But as Suto explained, it was a lengthy process just making sure the houses were able to be torn down, despite their appearances dictating an obvious need for demolition.
''It's taken us over a year to be able to start this project,'' Suto said. ''For the houses owned by people who are deceased we have to go to probate court to make sure the house hasn't been left to anyone.
''Sometimes it's hard to find the current owners and when people just up and leave, there is no way to find them.''
Suto also explained that prior to any demo work, an inspection has to be done and an asbestos check must be performed.
Also, a legal ad must be ran three times in a newspaper for houses with deceased owners, followed by an ordinance being voted upon and passed by city council.
She is hoping that some good use can come from the vacant lots once the structures are demolished. But that is up the owners of the land.
''We were looking for some people to donate the land to Habitat for Humanity, but so far, no one has called or come forward to offer,'' Suto said. ''The land still belongs to the homeowners.''
Suto added that no liens have been placed on the property because of the demolition. However, property that the city has had to assist in the upkeep by keeping the grass cut and other maintenance work does have a lien in order for the city to recoup those costs.
After these 10 structures are torn down, the city will also have roughly $35,000 in Community Development Block Grant money after the first of the year to be utilized in the demolition of additional houses.
Raze, Tom's Construction in Neffs and Edge Co. in Wheeling all received some of the contracts to tear down the houses on the city's list.
Suto wanted to express her appreciation to A.C. Wiethe from Belomar for his assistance with much of the paperwork that allowed Martins Ferry to receive the NSP grants.
''We're trying however we can to make improvements to the city and make it look better,'' Suto added.
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