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City giving woman chance to refurbish
abandoned home

by Dolores Hamilton
A year ago on December 12, the Iowa Park City Council determined that the two-story brick/wooden residential structure at 1500 Karen was a “substandard structure” as defined in the city’s Code of Ordinances and ordered its abatement. The owner, Thomas A. Smith of Vernon, took no subsequent action and the city was forced to go in and secure the property.
In a second public hearing on Nov. 13, 2017, the property was again found to be substandard and the owner was given 48 hours to secure the structure. Nothing was done and and city crews, sent to do the work, saw there was considerable damage to the inside and thought demolition might be the only option. In addition, the owner had not paid past due taxes and liens on the property.
Monday night, in the third public hearing on the property, the owner was not present, but a young woman, Laurie DeWitt, who wants to buy the property, spoke to the council. She said she had started work by cleaning up the inside and outside of the property, replaced a couple of windows, is replacing sheetrock, and has an order in for a new garage door.
Council member Lori Shierry asked DeWitt if she knew how long it would take. “It all depends on the money situation for me,” she answered. “I went to the tax office and he’s (the owner) quite a bit behind in taxes. I’m taking all that on including his liens.” DeWitt said she would get it done as soon as possible and plans to keep the house as her personal home.
People who live down the street were at the meeting and told the council what bad shape the house and property have been in for the past several years, but they have noticed improvement since DeWitt started cleaning it up.
The council voted to give the homeowner 45 days to demolish the building or bring it up to code.
Following public hearings for properties at 606 E. Highway, 315 E. Crystal, 401 E. Lafayette, and 904 S. Wall, the owners were given 45-day extensions to take care of the problems. It was reported that the residential structure at 609 S. Colorado had been made secure and the safety issues were taken care of, so no action was necessary.
Council approved the cost of $16,626 for an analog/digital repeater to replace the aging analog radio repeater system at the police department.
Final plat of Lots 2-4, Block 26 of the Original Townsite was approved, and council amended the Code of Ordinances to change the cul-de-sac road surface requirements to a radius of 38 feet.
Public Works Director David Sherrill reported on the Wastewater Plant’s compliance with TCEQ regulations, and council authorized the purchase of a used 2013 Magnum generator for $26,250.
No action was taken following an executive session to consult with the City Attorney on the City of Electra water bill.