06/30/07 — Clean it up now: Officials made right choice to target dilapidated houses

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Clean it up now: Officials made right choice to target dilapidated houses

It isn’t easy putting together a list of properties in a community that need attention — or sticking to consequences that are set if those structures are not kept up to code.

City officials and staff went to a lot of trouble to gather the facts necessary to create yet another list of properties that are in such bad condition that they are on a watch list. And they are vowing that this time, there will be action — and that if the 197 properties on the list are not repaired to code, there will be real penalties for the owners of the structures in question.

And that is the right decision — and a necessary one if Goldsboro is serious about moving to the next level.

No matter how many downtown revitalization efforts there are. No matter how many times city officials say that Goldsboro is open for business and looking for new residential and business investment. No matter how many times Mayor Al King shakes a hand. If this city does not get control over its dilapidated structures and blighted neighborhoods, there can be no real progress.

The warning about first impressions does not just apply to chance meetings between individuals, either.

A visitor to this community will see the rundown properties and the condemnation signs. They will see the positives, but they will remember that first impression, too.

And in a tight market for business dollars, a factor like a large amount of dilapidated properties left unattended could be the determining factor that makes a company choose one location over another.

In this day and age, appearances are important.

But even though the release of the list is a positive — and those who are on it have earned the right to be there — a list is still just names and addresses.

It is time for city officials to get serious about actually aggressively addressing the problems that list represents.

There are some irresponsible property owners on the list who have ignored repeated warnings to get the job done. They should be the first targets — and be pursued until the bills are paid and demolition is completed.

But there are also elderly residents and others who need help with a house that is hard for them to care for anymore. Pointing them in the direction of help — and making sure they get the work done — should be a priority, too.

A list of 197 addresses means nothing if there is no force behind it. Let’s hope that this time, there will be.

Published in Editorials on June 30, 2007 11:18 PM