Glad To See City Wanting To Fight The Blight By Jordan Baer


JB 8-7-12 362

Like the battle to improve our city cemeteries, the battle of eradicating city blight is both a quality of life issue as well as an ethical issue that I take personally and want to help this city fix. And like with the cemeteries, the main goal I would like to achieve is to bring respect and funding to those organizations who are trying to fix this problem but are being placed on starvation diets while having their departments swept under the media attention rug so that the city can focus on shiny new toys that bring with them a false sense of progress towards correcting the city’s main problems.

Last February, 2013 I started the blog FightTheBlight.Blogspot.Com. I also had an article published in the City-CountyObserver detailing the mission behind this blog. Inspired by the Courier&Press’ recent articles, I humbly request that the CCO, republish this article which originally appeared on the CCO on February 5th (  As a way of thanking the Building Commission for their work on correcting the problem of the Old Frontier Liquor Building’s roof, I also request that the CCO either republish separately or publish as a footnote the follow up article that appeared on April 22  ( which shows the fixed roof.

I’m  thankful for the CCO and C&P’s blight articles they both are currently running, I am also thankful for the following actions that have taken place in the past few months…

* While debating whether to construct the downtown hotel or not, Third Ward Councilmember Stephanie Brinkerhoff Riley raised the question of using these funds towards addressing dilapidated structures instead (Point 3: )

* According to the mayor’s post budget press conference, approximately $500,000 is included in the coming year’s budget for addressing blighted properties. Although this is down from the $650,000 requested last year, it is still a great step in the right direction:

* Last Saturday, Phyllip Davis invited me out to a project he had set up with the help of Community One and Grace & Faith Community Church. The project involved putting a new roof on the garage for an elderly couple that would otherwise be unable to undertake such a project.

This project, which is aimed at helping those who can’t maintain their homes due to poor health or finances, was completed in just half of a day and all of us who participated got more out of the project than even the recipient themselves. Thanks to citizens like Phyllip, we can keep blight in check and unable to strike those in our community who are less fortunate.

Obviously, one city facing this same problem to the exponential power is the city of Detroit, which I have been following closely in the past few months. Urban sprawl has completely obliterated the city of Detroit. It has gotten so bad that San Francisco, Manhattan, and Boston could ALL fit within the city of Detroit’s boundaries ( As a result, the city has failed miserably at maintaining its never ending infrastructure.

After decades of sprawl and decay, the city of Detroit has finally begun to bring a lot of energy and excitement to their crusade to eliminate urban blight. Not only has the federal government and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder committed $52 million dollars in funds to demolish nearly 4,000 homes (, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has pledged to tear down every single blighted house in Detroit. He has also reportedly considered erecting a countdown board to track the city’s progress ( With the formation of a blight task force, Detroit is proving that both government and private business owners can come together to solve what once was considered Mission Impossible.

Moving forward, I would like to reiterate that I hope the city of Evansville continues to handle this issue delicately by treating each house individually and personally. While most blighted homes may indeed be in a state of disrepair, there are still some that aren’t and have great architecture. The two houses that come to mind first are the ones at 210 and 214 W. Michigan. In fact, 214 W. Michigan was featured this week by the C&P (

Although, I am thoroughly excited about the passion Mr. Gilbert has brought to Detroit’s efforts to fight the blight, I also want to stress that if such fight the blight fever were ever brought to Evansville it should be accompanied by a respect for those structures that have architecture uniqueness and can possibly serve our community better by being restored instead of demolished. For other such structures, let’s fire up the countdown board.

The most important thing I would like to stress to city officials and city residents is that we must continue to keep the battle of fighting the blight as a top priority. As I said previously, this is one issue that is bringing all of us together. Whether you are with the C&P or CCO, we can all fight the blight and we all have shown we can come together to accomplish this. And that, is what I want to see here in Evansville.



  1. I’ll try it again. Sometimes only the first few words of my comments are posted. Maybe that is for the best.
    Cauterization can stanch the bleeding. Light the Blight

  2. Again…

    Cauterization can stanch the bleeding. Light the Blight. The various Operation City Beautiful spots can benefit by the fertilization provided by the ashes. Many plants love the potash in the ashidue but since it will reduce the acidic content of the soil, care must be taken or some plants will rebel.

    Not sure if it’s more cost effective to execute a controlled burn or bring in the ‘dozers. Letting the ugliness fester or hiding it behind cheap siding are not solutions. From what I understand Detroit is just letting them burn down when they ignite. Partly due no doubt to a downfunded fire department but Is It True they could be early adopters of…Light the Blight?

    • Again…

      The overall carbon signature, and sampled airborne chemical pollution PPM result doesn’t care much for “the lit blight”,and just what,is in those ashes, leftover?
      Your area already has an large problem with the EPA.s environmental standards,wouldn’t push that in any way.
      BTW when was the last time someone did an actual standard nationally certified environmental assessment concerning building environmental infrastructure conditionals due working and occupational applications per your public building structures in that city and county?
      Might focus on those some. That is,as you fight your blight there,maybe some notable however easily correctable issues could be identified,addressed and set for movement forward, as well.
      Just a suggestion,for now.

  3. I think the real issue is that the Weinzapfel Administration was budgeting $1 million a year for demolition in the second term. Winnecke’s $500,000 is actually cutting the budget in half from prior years. 2013 was Winnecke’s first budget. At least he’s consistent in cutting the amount- He’s done it in both of his budgets.

    • No one wants the dilapidated houses, but I wish there were more ways than using public money to take care of it. I don’t have a problem with some public projects that are for beautification and quality of life issues, but I wish there were more ways to do this without using money that people have worked hard to earn. It’s almost like welfare. Community One works with homeowners that can not afford to make repairs to the house that they are living in. Most of the recipients are elderly, disabled, chronically and/or terminally ill, etc. I don’t have a problem helping these people, it’s the Christian way in my opinion. I have a problem with the city paying to tear down a house that is/was owned by a slumlord that collected Section 8 on the house for years until their neglect deemed the house no longer up to Section 8 guidelines. That’s where a lot of these houses come from. Also, some of these houses in the 3rd Ward were initially built to be temporary housing for the workers in the factories in the area and were not intended to be inhabited for 70 years. There needs to be a task force for this problem.

      • The inconvenient truth is that no one would want the houses if they were nice like the new homes out in the county because the population of Evansville has stagnated. Who wants a nice house in a ghetto? The only financially responsible thing to do with these obsolete homes is to tear them down. The Vectren bills are near $1,000 per month in the winter for a house that is not worth $25,000. They have served their purpose and need to go to make way for some future growth. Let the wrecking ball swing.

        • Your username suits you well. You are a die-hard advocate for tearing everything down. Last week it was the Greyhound station this weeks it’s unmaintained homes. How do you determine that it costs $1,000/mo for Vectren? The houses are unoccupied and most do not have utilities on. As far as your question of “who wants a nice house in a ghetto.”, I would say there are 40 families that are happy to have the Homes of Evansville houses that were recently built. Also, Habitat builds several houses every year and there is never a shortage of families on the list of prospective recipients. It’s all relative. One man’s “ghetto” is another man’s home. Get your nose out of the air.

          • You’re missing the point. These are not homes that are suitable for rehab. They are empty and most already owned by the City or heading that way. There is no alternative but demolition. Not only is demolition necessary, but it is the only way to facilitate economic growth. We’ve seen countless examples of where property was not sold for development until the owner invested in tearing down any structures and then leveling the lot. Preparing areas for growth is how I describe it.

            You make my point in describing a lot of the homes in the 3rd ward (west of 41). They were never meant to last this long. There’s no nostalgia in the world that makes them nice houses now. As to the Vectren,you are new to community involvement. The last Vectren hearing that occurred in Evansville brought out people who were paying $400 to $700 a month in Vectren due to the poor quality of the homes they were renting.

          • I’m not missing the point at all. I know that many of the houses need to be demolished. I just don’t feel like I should have to pay taxes to tear down a jackass slum lord’s building. Maybe the neighborhood associations can find someone that is qualified and can negotiate the price down. Who knows? Maybe Klenck or another contractor could donate their services for some of the work? Maybe it could be a project for a trade group? Everything does not have to be done at the taxpayer’s expense. We have such a tendency to blame government and ask them to fix the problem that we forget it’s at our own financial expense.

          • “One man’s ghetto is another man’s home.”

            I agree with this. I think what Community One is doing is awesome.

            I couldn’t support using taxpayer dollars to tear down dilapidated homes. There is a better way.

          • By the way, almost any home can be fixed. It’s really just a question of “is it worth fixing”. Sometimes that depends entirely on what someone already has invested in the property.

  4. Jordan, thanks for coming out and helping us. I’m organizing a day for the church to be on the Bucket Brigade for Salvation Army. I’ll let you know when I coach another big project for Community One.

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