Mayor looks to tear down more houses

SALEM- The city of Salem has a few less blighted homes to see, with six torn down and another one set to be torn down, but Mayor John Berlin said he’s hoping those numbers can grow.

“Through the land bank, demolition funds should be available to us that had not been available to us before,” he said.

Berlin represents the city of Salem as municipal director from the largest municipality in Columbiana County on the newly-formed Columbiana County Land Re-utilization Corporation, commonly referred to as the land bank.

As a non-profit group which includes representation from government entities, he said the land bank can secure funds that government entities can’t. With funding, they can get rid of a lot of old homes which have become eyesores and the vacant properties can then be sold or used for construction of a new home.

Berlin said it’s a move in the right direction.

“Right now we’re overwhelmed,” he said regarding the number of blighted homes.

When the Moving Ohio Forward funds became available a couple years ago, the city submitted a hefty list of homes that needed demolished, but the program was only able to take down six of the homes on the city’s list.

“If it’s ready to be demolished, we’re more than willing to do it, we just need the cash,” he said.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said originally the city was just approved for five homes through Moving Ohio Forward, but then a sixth home was added to the demolition list. All six of those homes have been taken down in recent weeks.

The list included 150 S. Lincoln Ave., 611 N. Lincoln Ave., 408 and 414 W. Pershing St., 179 Hawley Ave. and 524 Columbia St. In all cases, the property owners willingly cooperated.

Kenst said the city is paying to have a seventh house taken down at 460 Franklin Ave. which has been condemned and is considered a hazard. George Less Contracting is scheduled to do the work.