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Niles removing blight

Demolition program takes down first house; 2 more approved

092820...R NILES DEMO 1...Niles...09-28-20...Dennis Gunther of Warren, right, a laborer with M & M Demolition, watches as a house at 211 McDonald Ave. in Niles is demolished by M & M Demolition, Inc. of Vienna Monday morning as part of the city's demolition program...by R. Michael Semple

NILES — Niles residents, specifically those on McDonald Avenue, have something to rejoice about.

Monday morning, the Niles Citywide Demolition Program tore down a condemned house at 211 McDonald Ave. as part of an initiative to remove blight from the city.

While this demolition isn’t the first under the program, it is the first residential demolition.

“The first big project was last year’s demoliton of the Garfield School building,” Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said. “This year, we wanted to take a deep dive into the city.”

The house on McDonald Avenue seemed to be a good starting place, according the neighbors. The house stood out among the manicured lawns and well-kept houses in the neighborhood. According to Mientkiewicz, the house sat vacant for years and was becoming a health hazard.

“It’s been deplorable for such a long time. It’s an eyesore, and it’s decreasing the property value,” neighbor Kendal Kover of 205 McDonald said. “This is huge for myself and my neighbors.”

According to Kover, the house has been an issue since she moved in 10 years ago. Many of the other neighbors agree that it has been a problem for quite some time.

“It’s definitely ugly. There’s been raccoons in and out of the house, and we’ve noticed the door doesn’t lock so it was constantly open — so we assumed someone was going in and out,” neighbor Terry Johnson of 215 McDonald Ave. said.

As for the program itself, Mientkiewicz is elated to come through on promises made while campaigning.

“We made a promise to the community that we’re going to be aggressive with cleaning up the blight in the neighborhoods,” he said. “It really makes us feel accomplished when we see things getting done and we see the joy on residents’ faces when a blighted home is finally coming down.”

The program also has its sights set for the future on other homes in the city. At the moment, there are two more houses, one on Chestnut Avenue and one on Federal Street, that are approved for demolition later this year and in the spring.

“We have five additional homes for the approval of demolition, so this demoliton process the mayor has put in place is going to be very active the next couple of years,” housing and zoning officer Jeff Crowley said.

The two approved houses both will be torn down without costing the city anything. According to Crowley, the house on Chestnut Avenue will be taken care of by the Trumbull County Land Bank and the Federal Street house will be taken care of by a grant given to the city.

As for the house on McDonald Ave., the demoliton should be completed within a week.

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