West Liberty battling dilapidated properties

WEST LIBERTY — There is something good about a program called “B.A.D.” about to happen in West Liberty.

West Liberty Mayor Mark Griffith said the town is embarking on a collaboration with the West Virginia University Brownfield, Abandoned, Dilapidated Buildings Program and Belomar Regional Council.

Belomar serves as a liaison for local governments in planning, programming, implementation and development of local and regional plans, programs and projects.

B.A.D. is a statewide initiative that provides technical assistance and site analysis tools to enhance abandoned and dilapidated buildings in West Virginia communities. Griffith said the program will include a team of volunteers who will walk or ride throughout the town to document every property including empty lots.

After the survey is completed, the information will be compiled noting the properties in need of repairs or demolition. The condition of vacant lots also will be evaluated. The team should consist of an ad-hoc group of local volunteers, elected officials and business and property owners who are interested in being a part of this program.

“We will get some volunteers together to go through and do a windshield survey of properties and take pictures,” Griffith said. “There are forms to fill out to determine, depending on the category, which properties may need some minor work and the properties that should be demolished.”

The B.A.D. building team from WVU will host a townhall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at West Liberty’s Town Hall to provide information to the public about the program and to seek volunteers.

“We plan to look at everybody’s houses … not picking or choosing,” Griffith said. “Town council members will not be involved. We’re hoping to get volunteers, maybe from the West Liberty Lions Club, and the public to do the survey.”

Once the data is collected, the town will have to write a redevelopment plan, then go to funding sources with the help of Belomar, the mayor explained.

“There is funding out there,” Griffith said. “That’s where Belomar comes in. They can help us identify funding sources to help property owners. This could be especially helpful for those on fixed incomes.”

Griffith said one of the biggest issues in the town is absentee landlords.

“This is a college town and these absentee landlords rent out to the college kids,” he said. “We have a hard time tracking down some of these people to take care of their properties.”