The list of dilapidated buildings in Lackawanna has been growing for years.
Now, city officials say they want to make that list smaller by razing the worst of the properties.
The City Council set aside $200,000 in the 2012-13 capital budget for building demolition, and during a special work session on Monday, members discussed for more than an hour which buildings should come down as quickly as possible.
The city has a demolition list of about two dozen buildings, including some owned by private citizens or banks and others in the city’s possession. But at roughly $30,000 per house, the $200,000 will be enough to cover just six or seven properties.
Council President Henry R. Pirowski said the city needs to be more aggressive in fighting neighborhood blight.
The demolitions will help send a message that allowing homes to fall into disrepair won’t be tolerated, he said.
Too many property owners in the past have been allowed to let buildings disintegrate, until they end up being torn down at taxpayer expense.
City Attorney Norman A. LeBlanc Jr. suggested tougher legal tactics to make it clear the city means business when it comes to the owners of blighted homes.
“When you’re trying to get the message out to the community, the way you do it is by going after them,” LeBlanc said.
Council members focused Monday on three properties: 89 Holland Ave., in the 1st Ward; and 80 Caldwell Place and 33 Center St., both in the 2nd Ward.
“Not only are they an eyesore, but they’re a liability,” said 4th Ward Councilman Keith E. Lewis, who said he supported taking money from the city’s fund balance to immediately demolish potentially dangerous properties.
The Holland Avenue house was heavily damaged in a fire last summer and is just a few feet from another home where three families reside.
The home on Caldwell Place, vacant for years, “is horrible,” said Pirowski. “It looks like a crack house.”
City officials anticipate folding the cost of the demolitions into a multimillion-dollar capital improvement bond, but they have yet to approve the bond issue.