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Aransas Pass Progress
Aransas Pass Blight Control Slowed by Hazardous Materials
By Mark Silberstein,
A ‘before’ image of an abandoned property that stood at 322 S. 12th St. in Aransas Pass, its roof already in a state of collapse. A 5-member panel made up of city residents decided it was time this blighted structure came down. Courtesy: City of Aransas Pass
This is all that’s left after Aransas Pass Public Works demolished the home, but not until asbestos could be properly removed beforehand. Courtesy: City of Aransas Pass
Whether they’re longstanding remnants of homes and businesses that suffered major damage from the August 2017 Hurricane Harvey, or have been left abandoned due to the homeowner’s death, or perhaps an absentee landlord who has just neglected a structure until it collapsed onto itself the City of Aransas Pass continues to wrestle with an ongoing issue impacting everyone’s property values – blight.
This month, the Aransas Pass Department of Public Works assigned its own crews to tear down an example of the unsightly structures that sadly fill several neighborhoods and involve considerable expense to demolish. Administrators can place a lien on the property in hopes of collecting payment, among other legal avenues that are available. The only thing slowing down the process is unforeseen circumstances like discovering the structure may be riddled with asbestos. In that case, city Building Inspector Joseph Garza advised bids must be sought from outside contractors equipped and trained to properly remove and dispose of the hazardous substance.
That was the case, Garza explained, when the city cleared Public Works to tear down a home at 322 S. 12th St. earlier this month. The building was in such rough shape an image photographed by Garza’s office before the demolition began and shared with The Progress shows the home’s roof full of holes and partially collapsed. By the time heavy equipment was finished the site was all cleaned up of debris and all that you could see to indicate a house once stood there was the outline in the soil where the foundation had been laid.
At City Hall it’s the 5-member citizen- run Building Board of Standards and Appeals that meets and decides on what properties should be torn down, a process that still has to follow a stepby- step process that can routinely take weeks or even months to follow to its conclusion. Already, next on their list is an abandoned home at 503 S. 10th St., the long empty house also heavily damaged by a fire. City Manager Gary Edwards recently approved a DPW request to have that site tested for asbestos contamination, too.
Under the department’s new Director, David Flores, projects like these the city used to hire an outside contractor for demolition work have moved in house, a decision that Edwards expected would save the taxpayers considerable sums of money.