In the next couple of weeks, Carl Scott told an assembled Valparaiso City Commission Monday night, he is going to take a scoop of dirt from the land at 363 Washington Avenue in Valparaiso, for a good cause.
Seven years ago, an elderly woman who lived on Washington Avenue made a code enforcement complaint about a decrepit home on her street – which had long been abandoned. She passed away before Carl Scott, the Valpasrasio building inspector, could succeed in having the house torn down. Scott fought with heirs to the house, an IRS tax lien and byzantine rules which have prevented the home from being knocked over.
Several years ago, Scott even had the certificate of occupancy revoked on the house. Even so, his actions weren’t enough to permit demolition.
Scott had the heirs to the property deed the property to the city, but a tax lien from IRS prevented action on the City of Valparasio’s behalf. Finally, mercifully, the IRS did not renew its lien on the home.
This means, after all these years, The City of Valparaiso will get to knock down the house. They will take possession of the land as well. Hopefully, the city can sell it in order to recoup the costs of the demolition, and some of the wages public employees like Scott earned while settling this Odyssean-like journey to knock down an uninhabitable house.
When the tax lien on the house, worth about $20,000-$25,000 in Scott’s estimation, lapsed – the last metaphorical rotting load-bearing beam holding the actually rotting house together collapsed.
It meant that when the City of Valparaiso actually took control of the house, they wouldn’t owe the federal government that money, on top of the money it would cost for demolition and removal of debris.
The city had a single contractor put in a bid to demolish the house – at a cost of approximately $16,000. The city solicted two other bids, but did not receive responses. Commissioner Kay Hamilton, a general contractor, noted the demolition industry has too many jobs and not enough hands to do the work.
After the demolition and removal, The City of Valparaiso will have freshly-cleared land in the center of the city. With the price of housing in the area, several city commissioners speculated that the city stands to gain quite a bit of money from the sale.
Hayward Dykes, attorney for the City, said that the typical procedure to follow when the City goes out to sell land would be to have the land appraised to ensure that the city earns a just payment for the land they are selling. The city commissioners said from the dais that they hope to do just that by asking an appraiser, when they can find one with a clear schedule, to appraise both the property at 363 Washington Avenue – and another property they are looking at buying on a property that backs up to Eglin Air Force Base.