By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

 Machesney Park Mayor Jerry Bolin has announced a plan he and Village Administrator Tim Savage hope will address current and future housing blight in the community. Their mission statement is as follows: “Improve the attractiveness, livability and economic viability of our residential neighborhoods through a multi-faceted effort to eliminate or improve housing that is in disrepair or an un-inhabitable condition.”

There are four goals and four actions. The goals are:

1. Identify and demolish abandoned homes that continue to be ignored by owners and lenders, and are no longer viable to rehabilitate or are located within the floodway and flood plain. They have previously been ineligible for removal through the Village’s flood Buy Out Program, which is a result of the June 2008 flooding of the Rock River.

2. Partner with community groups to rehabilitative viable homes and to get those homes into the hands of new ownership.

3. Explore establishment of a program or organization charged with acquiring abandoned homes that are repairable, making needed repairs to get the property into a marketable condition and disposing of the homes on the open market.

4. Apply resources to abandoned homes that are viable for continued habitation and are in need of exterior structure improvements and lot clean-up.

Here are the four actions being recommended by the Mayor and Administrator:

1. Ask the Village Administration to research and apply for the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Abandoned Property and Blight Reduction Program Grant.

2. Seek a resolution designating and committing all funds received through state shared gaming revenue for a period of three years, to support the goals of the initiative.

3. Begin discussion and design of programs under goals 1 and 2, toward the rehabilitation and occupation of select abandoned homes.

4. Restart the IHDA Home Owner Assistance Program in 2017.

Helpful Information

The above goals and actions are a result of the Mayor and Administrator working for several months on a program that addresses current and future housing blight in the Village. During the Nov. 7 Village Board meeting, Mayor Bolin shared with trustees, staff, audience at Village Hall and cable television audience, an article written by Shelly R. Dunham, Urban Planner for Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental Firm in Freeport.

It began:

“Vacant, abandoned and dilapidated properties are a nearly universal problem for communities across the country. The housing market – stubbornly stagnant in many areas – and the lingering recession have exacerbated the problem. Couple that with often declining property values and local tax revenues, and many communities find themselves with a substantial problem.”

She then pointed out several conditions that are part of the problem.

* Dilapidated properties drag down housing values, not to mention confidence and morale in neighborhoods.

* Excess low-quality building stock negatively impacts the housing market.

* Vacant and abandoned properties can be a dangerous, attractive nuisance.

* The presence of blight, even small things like broken windows or unkempt lawns, creates a ripple effect in a neighborhood, leading to more neglect, deterioration and decay.

* The blight discourages neighborhood investment, invites criminal activity and undermines the aesthetics and character of the neighborhood and community.

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