The Village of Depew is wrestling with how to handle 14 vacant or abandoned properties throughout the village, many of which have become magnets for juveniles and criminal activity, village officials say.
It’s a problem that village officials say they want to address, but they also know they can’t afford to demolish all of the homes because it would cost at least a half-million dollars.
“Will we take care of them all? No, it’s a big expense,” Village Trustee Robert Kucewicz said. “It could be six figures to knock them all down.”
Monday night, Code Enforcement Officer Tony Fischione ticked off each individual property on a two-page list, highlighting the last known owner’s name, describing the condition of the property and if there had been any success for some that had gone through a county foreclosure auction.
The deteriorated homes, some of them with their taxes unpaid for years, are located in various parts of the village, including Borden Road, Transit Road, Calumet Street, Terrace Boulevard, Laverack Avenue and Dean Road, to name a few.
“Some properties are somewhat maintained by banks. Others are dead properties,” Fischione said.
Before the village considers razing some of the worst ones of the bunch, the Village Board held a public hearing Monday, in an attempt to draw owners of the homes to the meeting to get their comment. The property owners were all mailed notices about the hearing, but none came.
Village officials are trying to declare the buildings unsafe and get permission from Erie County to knock them down. Just how far they can go, because of the huge expense of demolition, is uncertain. Some of the properties will be listed on the county’s auction list in September.
In one instance, Village Attorney Mark Aquino said the home is so bad that there is no hope of it being bought at an auction. “That’s a clear demolition,” he said.
Another one was described as a huge eyesore and full of rats.
A former boardinghouse at 60 Laverack was described as being partially collapsed with its interior deteriorating. The village labeled it a safety hazard. It was not sold in 2012 at a foreclosure auction.
“We’re probably going to go after the ones with no redeeming value,” Kucewicz said in an interview Monday, noting that demolition by the village would be the next step. The village would then try to place a lien on the property with the unpaid taxes to be addressed at a future sale of the property.
“It’s a safety issue and about aesthetic value,” Kucewicz said. “People are breaking into them and you wonder if they’ll burn down.”
Airview Terrace resident Jamie Eichler, who lives behind one of the problem homes at 33 Donna Court, told the village that he wanted to buy the land and make his lot bigger and make improvements.
But Aquino explained to him that Patricia Vega still is listed as the property’s owner and she holds the title. “Right now, the village is trying to deal with the most egregious properties,” he said.