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City efforts to clean up town proving fruitful

By Sherrie Williams
City of Iowa Park Code Enforcement has been putting extra effort in to cleaning up the town for just over year and results can be seen.
In the July 20, edition of the Iowa Park Leader a headline read “A sweeping effort to clean up the town” and the city council meeting headline said “Eleven public hearings on city agenda.”
The public hearings were all for “substandard Structures.”
Since then there has been numerous hearings and municipal court cases.
In early 2017 a special council meeting addressing code enforcement was held and the council told staff they wanted to see the city cleaned up, expressing health and safety concerns as well as appearance.
During the meeting council members heard the many issues as well as the responsibilities the one code enforcement officer’s position required. Manpower was one of the biggest issues.
A second person from another department was added to code enforcement part time.
Code Enforcement Officer Charles Dudley retired in December 2017 and Greg Polly was hired as Code Compliance Officer/Inspections.
Also, Karla Neal is Code Enforcement Officer.
Their focus started with the top worse 100 properties.
Fees were increased when city crews cleaned up the properties and in addition to liens placed against the property, owners are sent court summons.
Appearances before the municipal judge has resulted in several property owners receiving fines up to $400 per offence for weed/debris violations.
There were extra municipal court days set up to handle code violations.
Records show the number of letters sent for code violation from February through July 2018 include:
Swimming pool violations - 10; high weed/grass and vegetation - 106; alley violations - 13; trailer violations - 38; junk vehicles - 93; junk/bulk matter - 23; brush/trees - 1; substandard structures - 44; owner abatements - 22; and abatements by the city - 4.
“While additional improvements are certainly in order, the overall conditions and appearances of public and private, commercial and residential properties have improved significantly in recent months,” said City Manager Jerry Flemming. “Many property owners (including the city) have had unsightly and objectionable materials removed from their properties. The maintenance of lawns and vegetation on lots and adjacent rights-of-way has certainly improved. Some who have been unable to maintain their own properties have been assisted by families, friends and neighbors. Many have been highly supportive in the efforts to promote and improve the small-town charm of Iowa Park.”