Trumann council talks condemned houses

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The reoccurring topic at the last several meetings for Trumann City Council is the complaints from residents about the unsightly houses around town. In an attempt to help residents understand the lengthy and difficult process, Mayor Sheila Walters and Alderman Rick Atkins spoke publicly on the procedure.

The mayor said one of the hardest problems is finding the owner of the house. Many times the owner is not deceased, however is unable to maintain the house and its issues due to residing in a nursing home. Another example of the city running into problems finding the owners is when the house has been passed down to children, or other relatives, who live out of state.

"We run into these kinds of problems all the time, and we legally cannot just tear down the house. Its a long process," Walters said.

She added the biggest issue with the entire condemnation process is the financial segment. The mayor said it costs anywhere from $4,000 to $5,000 dollars to remove a small to medium sized house.

This high cost comes mainly from the transportation of the debris. The closest place for Trumann residents to dump debris is in Crittenden County. The cost per dumpster is $500, with an additional $31 per ton to dump.

"We just cannot take on that financial responsibility for every single one of theses houses," Atkins said.

He has heard from several residents about having a control burn of the houses to ease the city's cost on dumping.

"A control burn is not legal with these houses because of air pollution and the danger it presents to the rest of the town," Atkins said.

Walters ended the discussion by saying this problem is reoccurring in nearly every town.

The discussion was brought up with the condemnation of the house at 212 North Pine Street. The owner has 90 days to bring the house up to code before the city will intervene and remove it.

In other business, the council:

*approved a resolution to enter into a lease agreement with Arkansas Early Learning, Inc., for head-start.

*approved a resolution to enter into a lease agreement with Arkansas State University Newport-Technical Center for the Adult Education classes.

*approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Justice Network to provide probation services for the Trumann Police Department.

*accepted an ordinance to rezone the Sims-Talbot Adult Education and Workforce Development Center from Industrial-1 to Commercial-2.

*approved a new Trumann Waterworks employee policy. This policy contained the job descriptions for each employee as well as pay scale. Manager of the Trumann Waterworks Scotty Jones said he brought it before the council to have more structure within the company. This is the first time for a city department in Trumann to have a policy like this, however Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson told councilmen that they can expect one from him in the near future.

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