Vicksburg, MS (WLBT) - Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs is taking on blight in the city and says his major focus is on the growing number of derelict commercial buildings around town. The mayor is warning owners to clean up their properties or the city will take action.
Mayor Flaggs says he is fed up with the blight in the city and he wants something done about it. First on the list are commercial buildings.
“This is on the main street," said Flaggs. "This is in the historic district and how are we going to hold the residents responsible when rich developers are leaving their property unattended?”
Flaggs says the vacant, old buildings are eyesores, safety hazards, and they bring down the value of a neighborhood.
The city is considering using $3 million from the reserve fund to remove the decrepit commercial buildings and then make the owners pay back the city.
“I would rather spend $3 million we have in a reserve then to continue to allow properties like this to become abandon and blight the heart of our city," said Flaggs. "I have asked the community development director to look at all these properties, inspect all these properties.”
Vicksburg Community Development Director Victor Gray-Lewis says that while some of the owners are working to rehab the structures, others are not.
He points out that there is a legal process the city must follow before it can demolish these commercial buildings.
“We are going to work with those property owners through either state statue or local ordinance. One of those is the slum clearance statue where we notify the property owner and they have to come in and make certain repairs to the building. The other is demolition by neglect ordinance,” said Lewis.
“This is our city - the city of Vicksburg. It is the city we are marketing as a tourist attraction for the state and we can not tolerate this,” said Flaggs.