City of Fairmont Makes Great Strides to Battle Blight

PHOTO – A dilapidated home within the city of Fairmont

In Fairmont, over 300 buildings sit vacant, abandoned or dilapidated.

Some have sat for years in disrepair after their owners died or moved away. Others are owned by heirs who live out of state, and simply forgot about them.

But the residents who live next to them and the city government which has authority over them haven’t forgot.

“As people moved out, who was there to maintain their properties?” City Manager Robin Gomez said. “For many of them, nobody did.”

Read the full story from The Times West Virginia here.

Philly Streets Get Test of Jane Jacobs’ “Eyes on the Street” Effect

Jane Jacobs outside of her home on Spadina Road

In the five-and-a-half decades since Jane Jacobs published “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” her core contention — that urban vitality and safety are a function of small-scale density, a mixture of uses and “eyes on the street” — has become conventional wisdom in urban theory. But the impact that that notion has enjoyed can be attributed, in large part, to the poetic force of Jacobs’ delivery: The idea that an active “sidewalk ballet” makes neighborhoods safe as well as vibrant seems to jibe with daily experience. Can data bear it out?

According to a new study, maybe.

Read the full story from the Next City here.

New WV State Law Gives More Tools for Dealing with Dilapidated, Abandoned Properties

Gazette-Mail file photo
Cities will now have more tools to deal with dilapidated houses, like this one photographed on Charleston’s West Side in 2015.

A law allowing municipalities to take new measures against owners of dilapidated, abandoned properties has gone into effect.

The law allows code enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants from a municipal judge to determine the status of a structure. If granted, the agency can inspect the property to see if it is truly dilapidated, Charleston City Attorney Paul Ellis said.

If there are significant issues with the structure, municipalities can then demolish those that are serious public safety hazards. Previously, municipalities had to get either written consent from the building’s owner, or the municipality could get an order in circuit court.

Read the full story from the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.

Bluefield is Taking Action to Enhance Downtown

By James McDowell, Multimedia Journalist

During an economic downturn, the first casualty are small, locally owned businesses. Not only does it hurt the local economy, but often leaves the city’s landscape just as scarred. However, Bluefield, West Virginia, is now doing something about it.

Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s Director of Economic Development, has begun an initiative to spruce up the storefronts along Bland and Federal streets. He says the reasons for the project are threefold. “We started using the windows to market Bluefield, tell the history of Bluefield, and actually do some cleanup. We’re starting with our own properties. This is an initiative that came from our Cool and Connected grant program we were working on, which is focusing on downtown development.”

Read the full story from WVVA here