ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - The mayor, county officials and spectators gathered to witness an excavator bear down on four properties that had been boarded up for years in Elyria.
The boarded-up houses on Lowell Street, Brace Avenue, Bell Avenue and 10th Street were identified as nuisance properties that would be demolished, along with 146 others in both Elyria and Lorain.
Phillip White lives next to the house being demolished on Brace Avenue. He says the grass was never cut and as the condition of the home worsened, pieces of the roof would blow onto his property.
"The people moved out. It's just been going downhill since: stuff falling off of the roof, the siding falling off of the roof, and people started stealing stuff from it. They boarded up the windows and doors," described White.
City officials say some of the property owners passed away and the family they left behind never maintained the homes. A good portion of the rest were foreclosures or investment properties left behind by owners who took on more than they could handle.
"They often harbor criminal activity. They become a safety problem for people in the neighborhood, and beyond that, they tend to lower property values for residents that are maintaining their properties in the neighborhoods," explained Holly Brinda, mayor of Elyria.
The Lorain County Reutilization Corporation or Land Bank got more than $3 million from the state to demolish the 150 run-down buildings by the end of the year.
"It causes a lot of problems in the neighborhood. Just think of your own neighborhood. If your next-door neighbor didn't mow their grass for a couple of weeks, you'd be upset," said Lorain County Commissioner Lori Kokoski.
The land left behind will be sold for redevelopment.
Some day, White hopes to retire and maybe sell his home. Now he can without the eyesore next door. He says his future is looking better after this.
"Definitely, looking much brighter," added White.
The city will now go after the owners of the properties they tore down to try and recoup the cost of demolition.