HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Next door to a vacant home on Collis Avenue in Huntington is a man who decided to take action and become part of the solution. Jesse Walker is ready to see an adjacent, abandonded home be no more.
“I’m an eight-year-old kid watching demolition. I’m just as happy as can be over it,” Walker said.
Director of Developement and Planning, Scott Lemley, explains how this home used to be two stories, filled with a family and memories, but has been vacant for years.
“So with this property what you have, we have some major foundational issues and the back was actually collapsing,” Lemley said. “This is a structure that’s been on the vacant building registry for about a year. Something that’s been a very detriment to the surrounding neighborhood .
“I used to literally chase people away during the middle of the day that we’re under the house cutting water lines,” Walker said. “I’ve chased people out of there in the middle of the night because they were breaking in as a place to stay.”
Saftey is just around the corner for Walker and other Huntington residents as the city is demolishing a home every three days. Now, the city is halfway to the goal of 100 demolitions by year’s end.
Mr. Walker took it one step farther and decided to buy the Collis Avenue property, making the demoltion process much smoother.
“They agreed that the house needed to be demolished. From then, it was just a matter of making it quicker. I bought the property simply so that they could quicker about doing it,” Walker said.
Lemley explained how important it is for community members to call about delinquent and vacant properties so that the city can get the ball rolling.
“It is an 11-month process to demolish a house and that is if we have funding for it and that’s at a minimum,” Lemley said.
While the demolition process contintues, Mr. Walker is making plans for his new property.
“I’m going to move the fence and put in a bigger fence. My dogs will have a place to run. My kids will have more places to play,” Walker said. “You know, there’s nothing better I could ask for.”
Demolition of the home on Collis Avenue is expected to be finished by Monday. City officials added they have seen an increase of the number of people taking the intitative to fix-up properties in their neighborhoods.