BICKNELL — It looks like more dilapidated houses here will be facing the bulldozer within the next month or so.
In January 2016, the city was awarded $215,000 from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority's Blight Elimination Program to tear down abandoned homes. Officials had 12 properties in mind and got the green light to raze them.
Earlier this month, Mayor Thomas Estabrook reported that officials had purchase agreements or tax deeds in hand for nine of those 12 and were waiting on documents for the final three.
By the end of this week, Estabrook said on Wednesday, he hopes to have purchase agreements in hand for all 12 — and that means demolition is around the corner.
“When we have purchase agreements on all 12 we're seeking, we will then schedule the closings on those that we need to close on,” he said. “There's a possibility, depending on how the timing works out on this one we're trying to get the agreement on, that we could open bids at the board of works meeting on March 12.”
That timeline, he stressed, isn't set in stone. If bids aren't opened at the regular BOW meeting this month, it'll happen shortly thereafter, Estabrook said.
“But I'm confident enough to say that I think we'll be tearing down some blighted homes within the next 30 to 45 days,” he said. “We thought we'd only get nine, but it looks like we're going to go 12 for 12, so we're in the best position we could be in.”
Estabrook also noted that officials are considering an adjustment to the sidewalk repair project on North Main Street, work that will be financed at least in part through a $30,000 allocation included in the 2018 budget.
Officials have had their eyes on a section of Main Street from Sixth to Eighth streets as an additional paving project they'd like to add to the list.
If anyone has driven that stretch of Main, Estabrook said, they know why it's on the city's radar.
That portion of the street just happens to be the section that's going to be most complicated for the North Main sidewalks project, Estabrook noted, and after taking a close look at the area, it became clear that there is no drainage there whatsoever — and there hasn't been any drainage as long as the city's street crew has been around.
“So what I've asked (engineer) John Sprague to do is put together an idea of where we can put drain boxes in that area, if we can get it paid for, and run it to some existing drainage about a block-and-a-half down,” Estabrook said. “If we're going to redo that road and rework it and then water sits on it, it's only a matter of time before it turns to junk.”
With that in mind, officials are likely going to postpone the sidewalk paving that was originally slated for this spring.
It may be pushed off until later in the year, possibly after Labor Day, though the timeline is still very tentative.
“We'd start the sidewalks then, and do that one section from Sixth to Eighth — the road, the drainage boxes, and that section of sidewalk — all at the same time so we're not piecemealing it all together,” Estabrook said. “This section of Main has so many issues, it's probably better to grab all of it at once, tear it up, fix the road and get the drainage in.
“That delays the sidewalks a little while but I think in the long-term, since we'd be addressing so many of these issues, I think it's going to be a good deal.”
But before that work on Main between Sixth and Eighth gets going, concrete crews from Bloomington-based Milestone Contractors are set to arrive in town within the next couple weeks to tackle the Community Crossings Matching Grant paving work.
Thanks to the state grant money, the city is putting a total of about $570,000 toward paving as well as the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps on nine streets.
The concrete crews will work on the curb ramps and the asphalt crews will likely arrive around the first week of April.
In the coming months, as all sorts of paving projects and road work are underway, city officials ask for patience from local residents as they're driving around town.