In June 2015, the Marlinton Woman’s Club host-ed a Candidates Forum where candidates were asked questions from more than a dozen categories. As is almost always the case, number one had to do with economic development, but the number two item from that forum is my topic for this week.
It is a topic that continues to be a major concern of citizens, business owners, and others with interest in our community. Even as we work toward economic development we want our community to put forth its best face. In fact, (I believe), this second concern has more to do with economic development than we may understand.
Even before I was in the Mayor’s Office, and several times a week since, one issue is ever-present. It was titled by the Woman’s Club and was one of the first questions directed to me by a former mayor at my first council meeting.
“What are you/we going to do about – Dilapidated buildings/properties in the town?”
Question – There are many properties in town that are eyesores. The houses are in need of repair and yards and porches are full of junk. Most of these are probably rental property. Shouldn’t the “property owner” be responsible for these places in regard to their upkeep and appearance?
Answer: “Yes, yes, yes and yes.” Ultimately, “yes.”
How can the town expect a renter to take better care of a property than the owner is willing to do, – at least without the owner’s help? Obviously, renters must take responsibility, as well. Sometimes people are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. The Town has been setting dumpsters in place to assist with initial cleanup of properties.
Question – Is the town of Marlinton capable of levying fines against such property owners if these places are not cleaned up?
Answer: Yes. But not without having completed necessary steps.
Question – Would you work to get funding for demolishing the blighted structures?
Answer: Yes. We are working toward potential funding sources.
Question – What should be done with condemned buildings?
Answer: Personally, I would rather buy than condemn. At some point, we must consider all options.
Question – How are you planning to clean up the town of Marlinton – old cars, paint homes?
Answer: Removal of old appliances, furniture and/or junked cars has been on-going and will continue. The town has provided the hauling in some cases. I have assisted with helping to load larger items in other cases. I believe some tenants may be financially unable to do what they want to do. Here, I seek the opportunity to invite local clubs and organizations to get involved. Ask your pastors to invite summer work teams. Truly, the fields are ripe for harvest. Come make a difference in a family’s life here. Help a child in a family see for themselves how much difference can be made by picking up trash, cleaning up a mess, painting, cleaning, or whatever needs done. Even mowing grass or trimming shrubbery.
Question – How would you recommend using the lot adjacent to the Pocahontas County Opera House. Given the impact of storm run-off from pavement in this vulnerable area of town, would you consider porous surfaces such as grass and selective plants?
Answer: The committee, with assistance from the Town, has already torn down an old storage building, torn out sections of concrete, cut a tree, placed stone on graveled area and set back an LP gas tank with enclosure.
Question – Concerning the land/parking lot next to the Opera House – how do you propose to develop it? For example as a community green area or garden?
Answer: The current plan is to seek designs and funding for an outdoor auditorium.
If we change nothing – nothing will change.
We are not moving blindly. With the help of our Planning Commission and Marlinton Housing Authority, we will continue to “plan our work and work our plan.”