New deadline could mean more demolished houses

Clark, Champaign counties have received $1.2 million through program.

A state grant program that provides funding to tear down abandoned structures has been extended, allowing Clark and Champaign counties more time to demolish some of their most unsightly buildings.

The Moving Ohio Forward Program provided about $75 million to counties throughout the state for demolition projects, based on the percentage of foreclosures filed in each county between 2008 and 2011. The grant was the result of Ohio’s share in a national mortgage settlement with the country’s five largest loan services.

In all, Champaign County received about $246,000 from the grant while Clark County received about $943,000.

Mike DeWine, Ohio attorney general, announced Friday that the program will be extended from Dec. 31 this year to May 31, 2014.

Champaign County is already well along in the process to demolish about a dozen buildings that have been abandoned over the years. The extension may not impact that process directly, but bids will soon be accepted to demolish 11 structures within Urbana’s city limits as well, said Amy Schocken, a partner with CDC of Ohio who is helping Champaign County administer the program. If there is enough funding available after the bids are reviewed, its possible the extension could provide Urbana with additional time to tear down a few more structures.

“That’s great news because we’re doing this for a lot of communities,” Schocken said.

The Springfield City Commission is also expected to consider a resolution that would extend the project completion date for the program in its agreement with Clark County. Because Springfield has an established demolition program, the city is administering the grant for both the city and the county.

The deadline for counties to use their funds from the grant was extended in part because several counties have sought more time due to rainy conditions this spring and difficulty finding qualified demolition contractors in some areas, according to information from DeWine’s office.

“I am pleased with the progress made by communities to raze abandoned and blighted homes,” DeWine said in a press release. “By extending the deadline through late spring, we hope that counties will continue to take advantage of the funds available to them to get rid of abandoned homes that have attracted crime and are community eyesores.”

The extension will allow counties more time to spend their current funds, as well as more time to decide if they want to use their full allocation within the county.

In all, 12 homes were set to be demolished in Champaign County and its townships, along with about 11 more in Urbana’s city limits. In Clark County, Springfield has used the grant to help tear down more than 60 vacant and abandoned buildings.

In Urbana, the city will likely review bids for the demolition in early October, Shocken said. Tearing down vacant structures can be expensive, she said, so any additional revenue or time can be beneficial.

“”This is very rare that this is coming along to help us because we want to use every dime we can,” Shocken said.

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