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Knocking out blight and crime in Sullivan

Many blighted buildings have been torn down in the city of Sullivan. City officials say knocking out houses like these, serves many purposes.

Posted: Oct 29, 2018 6:02 PM

SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTHI) - Many blighted buildings have been torn down in the city of Sullivan. City officials say knocking out houses like these, serves many purposes.

Sullivan Resident Crystal Hayes says a home across the street from hers was condemned 15 years ago. The condition of it was getting worse by the year. Luckily, the city's blight elimination efforts are removing eyesores like that one.

Hayes shares, "About five houses on this street have been torn down and it needed to be done."

Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb says blight elimination is something he's passionate about.

He says, “We’ve torn down nearly 80 parcels in the city of Sullivan in the last 7 years.”

Those parcels vary from homes, garages, businesses, and more. Work that was happening on Monday was part of the city’s “They’ve Gotta Go” program. Lamb says that was an effort spurred by a conversation with the City’s Building Commissioner, asking what to do with old homes in the community.

In 2013, the county got $1.8 Million dollars from the federal blight elimination program. The city was able to tear down around 21 homes under that program. The Mayor says there are many benefits from the demolition.

Lamb explains, "You get these spots of cancer in your neighborhood and they just expand. It's a terrible feeling, it really devalues the community. It also just kills the spirits of a community."

Besides being ugly to look at, the blighted homes can actually increase crime in a community. That's why Sheriff Clark Cottom says it's important to get them knocked down.

The Sheriff says, "There's been several occasions where we have had calls for meth labs inside an abandoned house. We've also had calls of trespassing. Sometimes we'll even have people who will hide stolen merchandise."

Sullivan County Prosecutor John Springer says he’s dealt with several cases related to abandoned homes.

He shares, "I recall about a year ago we had I think four people arrested that we found in a home and I think that was due to a tip from a neighbor of suspicious activity in an adjacent abandoned home."

If you notice any suspicious activity at an abandoned home, you're asked to call local law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Hayes says her side of town doesn't worry her. However, she is glad to see the city take a proactive approach to keep her streets safe and quiet.

Hayes explains, "The rougher parts of Sullivan and stuff if that's really going on, it needs something to be done, yes, the houses being torn down. You don't want something like that going on near you."

Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb says the city hopes to tear down 5-10 more homes in the next several weeks.

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