Poughkeepsie officials and residents tackling abandoned buildings
A growing number of abandoned, vacant buildings in Poughkeepsie have become a drain on the city's budget and a major concern for residents and elected officials. They met Tuesday to build consensus on what to do next. Our John Wagner has the story.
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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Abandoned homes sprinkle the Poughkeepsie landscape, cutting the tax base, destroying neighboring home values, and causing all kinds of trouble.
"There are vagrants or homeless people living in the properties," said City of Poughkeepsie Corporation Counsel Paul Ackermann. "People are breaking in and stealing the copper piping which is a huge issue right now. They become centers of crime."
"And of course with all the wonderful things that we have going on here we don't want this to creep up on us faster than it is already," said Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik.
Poughkeepsie partnered with the Pace University Land Use Law Center to develop an official city plan by the end of summer. Residents input will play a big role, and plenty of ideas are being thrown out on what to do.
"The city can take over properties from banks that are not paying, put them in the hands of artists and or some of the homeless that have job skills," said Doug Nobiletti of the Academy Street Area Partnership.
"My idea is to help those people who actually live in those buildings that are owned by absentee landlords, become home-owners," said Wesley Lee, a Poughkeepsie resident since 1989.
Nearly 200 buildings are now confirmed as vacant abandoned. The city believes the actual number is around 300, totaling almost four percent of all Poughkeepsie buildings.
"Board up unsafe properties, demolish ones that can't be salvaged, to repair and maintain the ones that can be salvaged," said John Nolon of the Pace University Land Use Law Center explaining possible steps if the owners leaves the municipality on the hook.
Solutions include incentives for homeowners to keep up their homes and better enforced discipline for those who don't, using grants to redevelop and to create green space. Residents say they're optimistic.
"I think that there's a rising tide here that's going to lift all boats," said Nolon.
"It needs to be a community effort," said Lee. "I think something needs to be done to get everybody on board, it shouldn't be a free rider system."