Blytheville on a mission to clean up city

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The city of Blytheville is on a mission to clean up. They started with their parks now they're working on getting rid of vacant homes.

According to Chief Ricky Jefferson of the Blytheville Police Department, the city has passed a resolution in April to get rid of over 200 vacant or dilapidated homes.

Jefferson said these homes are spread out in underserved areas of the city.

Mayor James Sanders of Blytheville said they're currently partnering with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to help with the condemning project.

"We've already worked with ADEQ in an effort to acquire a burn box," he said. "It's a box that we can take vegetation, place it in there and burn it to allow us to reduce our cost. So, in the direction that we're moving into, is to go into these underserved areas and to remove these dilapidated homes, and to remove these vegetation trees to better the quality of life."

Sanders said they've prepared a tentative list of old homes that they have identified.

Five of those homes were torn down Thursday.

However, Sanders said the main purpose of this project is to stop people from committing crimes inside these empty homes.

"It is to beautify, but it's also a deterring of crime," he said. "To deter areas and underserved areas where people might try to hide or where criminal activity might be hiding."

Before the city began demolishing, Mayor Sanders said they have sent out letters to previous owners of these vacant homes.

"We're in a current process to identify these dilapidated homes," he said. "But, just because the council will identify it as a dilapidated home and place it on the condemnation list, the people who own the properties still have the opportunity - within certain periods of time - to come in and rehabilitate that home."

However, Sanders said they're trying to eliminate the blight to make the community feel more safe and comfortable in their surroundings.

After the condemning project, Sanders said they hope to attract more people into the city to reinvest in the area, and turning the empty lots into new homes.

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