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Mount Vernon Clears Way To Demolish Three Homes

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Three houses that were declared unsafe by the Mount Vernon City Council two months ago will be torn down in the next couple of weeks.

The city's Board of Estimate and Contract voted to tear down dilapidated homes at 456 S. First Ave., 359 S. 10th Ave. and 302 S. Sixth Ave. after much discussion among the council members about whether the buildings should be demolished. Council member Richard Thomas was in favor of getting rid of the buildings as soon as possible, while Council member Deborah Reynolds urged the city to find the owners of the homes before tearing them down so the city wouldn't be sued.

"The process to halt the urban blight these property owners had wrought on the community took nine long years," Thomas said. "This is a vital first step in cutting bureaucratic red tape, but most importantly a giant leap forward in guaranteeing the safety of our children and families in the community."

Still, Reynolds said, the city couldn't afford lawsuits if the property owners decided to sue the city for knocking down the houses.

“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.”

Resident Deborah Viruet, who lives next door to 456 S. First Ave., is glad that the house next door to her will be torn down.

"It's in imminent danger of collapsing," Viruet said. "It's buckling on one side and has a gaping hole on the other side of it. I don't even know what's holding it up. With all the skunks, mice, raccoons, feral cats and possums in there, it's like Wild Kingdom."

A fourth property at 153 S. 11th Ave., which was also declared unsafe by the City Council in July, is to be torn down by its owners at a date to be determined.

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