City searches for solutions to blighted buildings

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) - As private contractors  take down one blighted building , there are a couple  of hundred others still waiting for the demolition crew.

"It's a challenge for us, because the number keeps growing, and we only have so much resources to continue to tear down houses every year," said Environmental Services Director Lori Videtto. 

To reinforce the cities demolition effort commissioner Ben Hasan pushing a study of the pros and cons of using an inmate crew  something the city did have in the early days of consolidation . 
"It's something we've done before I think it's one thing for the commission to take a position that we can't do it we've done it before as opposed to saying we don't want to do it again," said Hasan. 

But city leaders have worries about using inmates for   demolitions. 

 "Liability is the biggest thing I have reservations about the workers comp as well if an inmate gets that's on the city of Augusta," says Commissioner Andrew Jefferrson. 

 "There are concerns, you have liability concerns, equipment concerns you have to have people who are properly trained of course," said Videtto. 

Private companies tearing down houses for the city say the answer isn't using inmates it's a bigger demolition budget. 

"There's about two hundred houses in the city of Augusta if they found the funding for that those houses would be gone within a year," said John Partridge with Marks Demolition. 

The problem is clear too many run down buildings the answer isn't as easy. 
"If I'm tearing down forty this year, there maybe fifty or sixty that end up on he list to be done, and we're not getting ahead, we have to figure out how to get ahead," said Videtto. 

Should looking at inmates be something that should be considered," said Videtto. 

'I think we should look at it," she said. 

 Commissioners are not set on inmates for demolitions however they still see the need to do something about tearing down all the  abandoned structures, so the idea is to send a more comprehensive city clean up plan that will deal with the blighted buildings back to the engineering committee for more study.

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