Local News

Rocky Mount Residents Seek Funding To Demolish Abandoned Homes

Posted June 17, 2005 6:08 a.m. EDT

— Picking up bottles and cans off the sidewalk is part of Kelley Grimes' daily routine. Grimes says she does it because, like all mothers, she wants her children to live in a safe and clean neighborhood.

"(I want a) nice environment where people come together and get along," Grimes says.

She says the biggest problem is right across the street -- four abandoned houses facing her home.

"It's a bad neighborhood," Grimes says. "I'm not going to lie -- it's a bad neighborhood."

The city declared the houses unsafe to live in, and there are about 200 more just like them, still standing, in Rocky Mount.

City Councilman Andre Knight says they do not just make the city look bad, the dilapidated houses also attract more crime, including prostitution, drugs, violence and some gang activity.

So, Grimes says she does not let her kids go outside.

That is why Knight and other council members are pushing for $200,000 in next year's budget to tear down the run-down houses -- that doubles what the city spent last year for demolition.

Knight says he knows money is tight, but believes the project should be a priority.

"If we don't correct the problem by demolishing the homes and rebuilding, then it will continue to be a problem," he said.

Rocky Mount's city manager says he will find a way to get the extra money in the budget for demolition projects.

Grimes believes with that kind of help, she can clean up the neighborhood for good.

"They need to tear them down or fix them up," Grimes says. "But do something."