After a few years of looking at the graffiti-covered burned out shell of house at 1216 5th St. and telling multiple city officials about the mess, Evelyn Krause came to Monday night’s Havre City Council meeting to see what was happening.
The house burned at least three years ago, Krause said, and has since merely gotten worse as the unoccupied building and its garage became a popular blank canvas for local vandals.
About two years ago, Krause recalled, she asked council member Andrew Brekke if the city could do something about the building, condemning it or making the property owner do something about it.
After a year-and-a-half without action Krause again approached the city, asking Mayor Tim Solomon to do something. She said she was told that the Havre Public Works Department was looking into the matter.
As the house remains, Krause has grown frustrated.
“I’m sure if this house were in your neighborhood something would be done almost immediately, ” Krause told the council. “If the laws aren’t enforced, nothing will change. ”
She went on to point out that all the recent talk about increasing tourism sounds kind of cheap with numerous abandoned buildings, not just the one near her home, standing unchanged around town.
“It gives people a good impression when they drive into town and see that big grey building (on 1st Street) abandoned, ” Krause said.
Public Works Director Dave Peterson said that the city had mailed out a notice to the owner of the house on 5th Street this winter. After hearing that the owner had recently suffered a back injury, the city decided to give the owner a little more time to take care of the situation.
He went on to briefly explain some of the cities concern in getting involved, describing the “expensive and time-consuming” process of condemning and demolishing the properties, having to test for and handle removal of asbestos in old buildings and all of the preparation that entails.
Solomon concluded the discussion saying they’d work on it.
“We’ll see if we can’t move that along for you, ” Solomon said.