City, property owners raze condemned buildings

By James Draper
With eight structures slated for demolition, just one drew a property owner to the Gladewater City Council chambers at City Hall July 20, and he offered no reservations about the coming clear-out and clean-up of his family’s property.
No, Joe Kruse said he understands the concerns about the deteriorating home, and his aim is to take care of everything by early Fall so it’s not necessary for the City of Gladewater to step in.
Granted, “It’s not cheap to do this project,” Kruse told council members, standing alongside City Inspector Al Harrison at the podium in mid-July. That said, “I’ve got the financing now. That was the only thing holding it up.”
According to Harrison, he and Kruse have been in regular communication to mitigate a variety of issues at 1709 E. Lake Drive, ranging from collapsed woodwork on the back of the home to a tree through the roof, trash and out of control weeds.
“It’s worse looking now that it was,” Kruse allowed. Workers have been removing siding and hauling it off to the scrap yard ahead of the full demolition and clean-up. He aims to have both completed in 90 days: “I’d rather do it than y’all do it. It’s going to be taken care of.
“It will be demolished, and it will be going up for sale. It’s prime lake lot.”
With Kruse handling the various issues voluntarily, council members unanimously granted his requested extension to Oct. 20.
No property owners spoke July 20 regarding either 322 Ragsdale or 803 E. Pacific Ave., and both properties were unanimously-approved for demolition by the city.
Harrison went through a laundry list of problems at the condemned structures.
“Bids cannot go out until after y’all order the demolition,” he noted. Notably, “There were five demolitions done by voluntary compliance.
In other business July 20, council members discussed replacing the air conditioning system at City Hall, where personnel have been sweltering this summer.
“We have worked repeatedly over the last year just to patch and get by,” Mayor Scott Owens said. “It is time, I believe, to replace these units.”
The discussion soon re-focused on the future of the building and how to get things working while staying fiscally responsible for the future.
“If we’re going to fix something, let’s go with the low bid so we’ve got a little bit less invested in the building,” City Manager Charlie Smith recommended, “in case somewhere down the road we find we want to do something different.
“We’ve got the roof fixed recently, too. Knock on wood, we haven’t had any issues with that.”
Council member Teddy Sorrells underscored the council’s focus on years ahead.
“As we think about our city and our city growing and what we’re doing and the things we want people to see who are coming into our city,” he said, “I think that it’s imperative that we come up with a plan about City Hall.”
On their consent agenda, items typically considered and approved with no discussion, the council members unanimously approved the minutes from meetings on June 15, July 6 and July 10 in addition to the city’s 2nd quarter investment report.
Council members took no specific action on a Lake Board recommendation to move forward with a new vendor and security plan at Lake Gladewater – the elected officials previously tasked Smith to move forward on those and other related issues. The group generally agreed with the Lake Board’s advocacy for grants to repair or replace playground equipment at the lake park.
Grant applications are in progress, Smith said, with key deadlines in October then May 2024 (and other dates along the way).
“I also, in the meantime, have consulted about getting some mulch to put under some of that equipment out there,” he said. “There’s nothing but hard dirt on the ground, roots and rocks.”
Playground equipment is extremely expensive, Owens agreed.
“Going after this grant is extremely important.”
On a similar note, Gladewater will be at the head of the developing Sabine River Paddle Trail, council member Brandy Flanagan said.
“I think we’re starting to see some momentum around Gladewater with some really interesting possibilities.”

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