City needs a better plan to remove blight

Customers of Marietta Wastewater Treatment Plant already are paying at least an additional $600 annually because Washington County Commissioners have failed to connect Devola and Oak Grove septic systems as agreed in 2011.

Now Marietta Councilman Cindy Oxender believes a brilliant blight fighting idea is for sewer users to pay $10,000-$25,000 extra to demolish the blighted and collapsing commercial property at 615-619 Putnam St. (at Seventh Street).

The building has threatened a major sanitary sewer line for the past four years.

The large sinkhole in the concrete slab was first reported to me by Diane Bruno, then Marietta College’s president’s wife.

The city then was allowing a computer company to operate in the building with no water service. The property was owned by First Premier Bank of Parkersburg. The Marietta administration did nothing as the building walls began separating, gutters filled with vegetation becoming mosquito habitat.

A massive tire sat wedged atop the sewer line. Nothing done.

In four years, the city has installed a temporary construction fence about a year ago. It has fallen down at least once. The Marietta Fire Department has marked the building as unsafe for firefighters to enter if it burns.

The building now is a priority for the city. After four years. And Cindy Oxender thinks it may be a good idea for all of us sewer customers to pay for the building’s demolition.

Brilliant! Keep up the great work.

The city has no systematic plan for dealing with the more than 80 blighted, abandoned, vacant, collapsing, burned out or otherwise unsafe and nuisance properties. Marietta City Council passed legislation creating a system for holding property owners responsible. Mayor Joe Matthews vetoed it.

It is time for a real plan and more action in addition to the recent demolition of three vacant houses.

Roger G. Kalter

Former 1st Ward Council member