RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
The Scioto County Commissioners has received $277,468 from the state of Ohio’s Moving Ohio Forward grant program to demolish vacant, unsafe, and dilapidated residential structures in the city of Portsmouth, village of New Boston, and the West Portsmouth area of Washington Township.
These funds were obtained by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine from the multi-million dollar mortgage fraud settlement with five national banks. DeWine set aside $75 million from the settlement to distribute to localities in the state to demolish these structures. According to the Scioto County Commissioners’ office, the city of Portsmouth decided with the county that the county should be the lead entity for these funds, and the county applied for funding.
Scioto County was allocated $277,468 from these funds, and the city and county decided to roughly split the money — with the county taking an additional five percent for administration. From the remaining money, the city will receive the larger $145,680 because of its greater need, and the county will receive $131,788 (which include $13,873 for administration).
The Portsmouth Office of Community Development will be responsible for condemnation of structures within the city. The village of New Boston will responsible for structures within its limits, and the Scioto County Health Department will be responsible for structures in West Portsmouth.
“I think it’s a great program, where the state is going to help villages to rehabilitate their property by tearing down undesirable houses that people refuse to fix up, or refuse to pay taxes on. I think that they should be reclaimed and put back into usage, if possible,” said New Boston Mayor James Warren.
He said the funding could assist the village with removing 12 houses, beginning within the next month.
Tracy Schearer from the Portsmouth Office of Community Development, said the city will use the funding to tear down between 8 and 12 houses, depending on the levels of asbestos contamination. She said helps clean up the city and improve its overall image.
“It will leave less area for prostitution and drugs and fire hazards and stuff like that,” she said.
The county has previously removed 50 similar structures from New Boston and West Portsmouth with assistance from Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP) grants. The city has also received NSP assistance, and has allocated $150,000 of local funds to remove structures on U.S. 23 and U.S. 52.
“This is going to allow both the city and the county to continue what was started under the NSP. It was 50 properties in the NSP for 56 units, and we want to continue doing that. So this is going to allow to do that,” said Fritz Leighty, community development consult for Scioto County.
In this latest round of funding by the Moving Ohio Forward program, the city and county will each contract with private firms to undertake demolition, and the county will be responsible for submitting all payment requests to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.