MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – City Council members Richard Thomas and Deborah Reynolds are still at odds over taking down four dilapidated buildings on the south side of Mount Vernon.
Thomas said he wants the buildings taken down immediately but Reynolds said that she wants to make sure the owners of the properties in question are in favor of demolition beforehand, so the city isn't sued.
The City Council voted on July 26 to notify the owners of the four properties that they were going to be torn down because they were an “immediate danger” to the community. Still, Corporation Counsel Nichelle Johnson said when you issue a notice to the homeowners and wait for them to respond, it hurts the city’s argument that the buildings are in “immediate danger.”
“The bottom line is that we want to take them down but we don’t want to get into a back-and-forth with the property owners,” Johnson said. “The law department is well-positioned to facilitate taking the buildings down and engage in litigation if it comes forth.”
Thomas said he is unhappy with the “bureaucratic process” that is slowing down the demolition of the buildings.
“The winter is only going to invite bad activity around these buildings,” Thomas said. “Look at our city in the past few months. We are not being reckless here, we are doing the people’s work.”
Reynolds said the city can’t afford a lawsuit since it doesn’t have much money in the general fund, adding that if the city operates this way it will always get sued.
“We have city-owned properties that are falling in,” Reynolds said. “This is taking interest into someone else’s home that probably pays insurance on it. We can be sued. We should look at ourselves before tearing down other people’s property.”
Johnson said that the buildings will probably be demolished by the end of the year, though no date for demolition has been scheduled.