MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The first of four houses ruled unsafe by the city over the summer has been demolished.
The first house to go was 456 S. 1st Ave., which was boarded up and had a hole in the side of it. Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards said that the delay in taking down the buildings was to make sure the city didn't get sued for taking them down illegally.
"We've been working on removing these houses for years," Edwards said. "We needed to make sure every t was crossed and every i was dotted because of the legal aspects. If we tore it down, the city would have to pay for it, then go after the owner to be reimbursed."
Councilman Richard Thomas said the City Council has been working with the building department for the entire year to get the houses knocked down. Thomas said that removing blighted homes should help to increase property values in the city.
"We need to put together a plan to make Mount Vernon homes more market ready," Thomas said. "There is no reason for homeowners to lose home improvement loans."
Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds, who argued to keep the houses up until the owners were found, is happy that the City Council took the necessary legal steps before knocking down the houses.
"Mount Vernon is a city of homes and our tax base comes from home ownership and what residents pay in taxes," Reynolds said.
Also set to be demolished are houses at 359 S. 10th Ave., 7 W. 3rd St. and 302 South 6th Ave. No date has been set to tear them down.
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