Funds to help bring down two Ely Street houses

The rejuvenation of Hannibal’s South Side is receiving a boost from Marion County. The county commission approved a $6,000 contribution toward demolition work during its Nov. 13 meeting.

“There are two properties on Ely Street that the city was wanting to demolish. They’re old shells of houses,” said Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode. “We had budgeted some money to help out with demolition. We approved $3,000 for each of the lots.”

The county’s contribution was not a spur-of-the-moment act.

“We (commissioners) had talked and agreed to help with some of the cleanup, especially on the South Side. We wanted to do what we can to help upgrade it and get it going even better, and other parts of the county, too, if needed,” said Bode.

While not a surprise, the county’s act was appreciated at city hall.

“They budgeted money in their current year budget for this, which I knew,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce. “When the issue arose at building commission (Nov. 6), I made the specific request to Marion County for these two sites. So it wasn’t a surprise, but we are very grateful to them for their willingness to do this, and approve it.”

According to LaGarce, the county is supportive of what the city is striving to do on its South Side.

“We are doing our best to remove blight, and the commission recognizes we are somewhat paralyzed when a property, due to tax-forfeiture, has no legal ownership. So they stepped up to help us in these situations, because they are mutually beneficial to both city and county. Blight is bad for both entities,” said LaGarce.

The demolitions the county is paying for are part of Hannibal’s Community P.R.I.D.E. Program. LaGarce says the neighborhood revitalization effort, which has been underway for over a year, is progressing “very well.”

“We expect reinvestment events to accelerate based on discussions I’ve had with certain investors. But I’d rather not share their ideas and strategies,” he said. “I will say I am very encouraged. I know we’ve had 14 bonafide rehabs in Community P.R.I.D.E. areas this year so far. That was the count 30 days ago.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com