After neighbors complained about suspicious activity, several properties in Alton will face the wrecking ball.
Alton resident Evangelina Flores and her neighbor, Blanca, are happy now that a property on their street will soon be demolished by the city.
“A lot of vandalism happened at that house,” Flores said. “Lots of kids, who we didn't know who they were, were even smoking there.”
Flores says she's had to call the police several times. However, by the time officers arrive, the suspicious people are gone.
"There's a formal notification that goes to the property owner," said Jeff Underwood, Alton’s city planner.
He said the city's code enforcement, along with police reports, help bring properties in disrepair to the attention of the city's Building Standards Review Board.
After the city gives property owners an amount of time to make their properties compliant with city code, the properties are brought to city commissioners for a decision.
City commissioners voted recently to use city funds to demolish four structures in disrepair. Those structures include one that was a propane business. Now, horses occupy that land. Two homes with caving or missing roofs have been scheduled to be demolished. Another home has also been scheduled to be demolished because neighbors said the home has brought criminal activity.
"They go in there to consume alcohol, drugs or just to hang out," said Mark Pérez, Alton’s Assistant Police Chief.
But properties in disrepair hurt their neighbors too.
"These blighted structures bring down property value," Underwood said.
“It’s best that [the city] demolish these abandoned buildings,” Flores said.
Alton's city planner said they’re not only combating abandoned properties in Alton, but also apartment owners who don't take care of their units placing tenants in unlivable conditions.
If an Alton resident has any questions about properties in disrepair, residents can call the city's planning department at (956) 432-0760.