As residents of Waverly Place Apartments near Clarkston watched crews demolish four parcels of dilapidated and burned out property, some let out loud cheers.
The process of demolishing the property took longer than county officials wanted, according to DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw, but the building was finally brought down April 13.
Residents had voiced concerns for more than a year about the building, which has been in disrepair since Sept. 1, 2015, according to court documents.
Clarkston resident Brian Medford said he was thrilled to see the building come down.
“This is what the citizens can do. This is what we voted for, this is what we wanted to change in DeKalb County. This is what this area deserves, and these kids deserve something better,” Medford said.
Medford said he used to drive by the buildings several times during the week. He said the buildings, located behind Indian Creek Elementary, were a safety concern for residents in the area.
“These kids that live around here deserve to not live next to something that looks like this. If I can prevent one kid from getting hurt playing in this thing, I’ve done something good,” Medford said.
County officials said due to court orders, litigation and funding, getting to the demolition phase can be an arduous task.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the county is focused on addressing blight-related issues across DeKalb.
“I’m very encouraged by the cooperation that you see now. In our court system we have court dates just for ordinance violations. That’s something new that we’re doing,” Thurmond said. “We invested additional money to work on reducing blight.”
Thurmond said the speed at which the county can demolish properties has been “night and day.”
According to Thurmond, the county demolished 19 single-family homes last year. DeKalb also allocated $2.6 million for an Operation Clean Sweep program that helped fund the removal of 391 tons of debris in roadways, 1,685 bags of litter and 51 piles of illegally dumped material.
Commissioners approved $300,000 for demolition of dilapidated properties. They also funded the creation of solicitor-general’s new Quality of Life Unit focused solely on prosecution of all cases involving code violations, blight and nuisances.
“We saw a need to expand our reach to efficiently and effectively address the concerns of citizens who suffered from ongoing blight and code violations,” said Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling in a statement. “I hired prosecutors who I know will work tirelessly to hold code violators accountable. By adding new members to our team, we will be able to better address community concerns.”
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