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Council targets demolition of old buildings

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

Within the next two weeks, Clarksburg officials plan to have a new committee in place dedicated to securing funds to demolish old houses.

During Thursday's city council meeting, members asked Mayor David Kates to appoint the committee, which will focus on a West Virginia Housing Development Fund program called, "Neighborhood 2000."

"The housing fund announced a program to assist cities in demolishing old buildings," Hunt said after the meeting. "The proposals have to be in the mail by Oct. 1 for us to access the program."

Under the program, cities can obtain funding to demolish dilapidated buildings to clean up neighborhoods, Hunt said.

When municipalities recover the costs of the work from property owners, the money goes back into the program so it can continue to clean up the area.

But the program will not just improve the appearance of the city, Hunt said. It also can spur economic development.

"Detroit and other big cities have tried this," he said. "They have found that, not only does it improve the demolition site, but also the neighbors become interested in the appearance of their property."

The city's committee will allow neighborhood groups to become involved, which is an important part of the program, Hunt said.

Also during the meeting, council members agreed to review a city code which states that only one establishment with billiard tables can exist on each street.

Council members proposed to review and update that code after denying an application to operate a "private club/tavern/restaurant" that was filed by the Movie Cafe.

The cafe has a pool table, which would mean more than one establishment with a billiard table would exist on Main Street.

Members voted against that application on the recommendation of the code enforcement commission, but agreed that the code should be updated.

The city plans to inform the Movie Cafe owners that once the code is updated, passage of the application should be no problem.

In other action, council members:

-- Agreed to move $8,000 from the Police Fine Escrow Fund to the uniform fund for the purchase of new uniforms. That money will be used to supplement money already in the fund. Chief John Walker said the department plans to take bids on three sets of uniforms for each officer. With 34 officers now on the force, that means 102 uniforms are needed.

Cost of the uniforms will not be known until the bids are taken, Walker said.

-- Passed a proclamation naming Sept. 9, 2000, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day in Clarksburg. The proclamation was issued at the request of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

"It's celebrated all over the U.S. and the world to bring awareness to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and what alcohol is doing to our country," said Josephine Cottrill, honorary state president of the organization.

At 9:09 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, church bells around the world will ring to commemorate the event, said Cottrill, who attended the meeting with Kathleen Sutton, local chapter president, and Mary Musgrave, local vice president for public relations.

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404.

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