Rutland blighted properties to be torn down - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland blighted properties to be torn down

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The crash of an excavator ripping down a 100-year-old home signified a new era in Rutland Monday.

The tearing down of similar rundown old homes is the first step in a new community development program that aims to give aging neighborhoods a facelift thanks to a new grant from Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras sang the tune "out with the old and in with the new" Monday.

In the case of Rutland's northwest neighborhoods, the old was a 100-year-old blighted drug house. Once a thing of beauty, neighbors and city officials say the old home had become an eye sore.

"This, my friends was a drug house. This signifies the beginning of a new era in northwest Rutland," Rutland Police Chief Jim Baker said.

That new era is on the way thanks to a new $1.25 million grant announced by Shumlin Monday. It will help Rutland remove at least a dozen dilapidated homes. In their place will come new homes or community spaces like gardens and dog parks.

"This is gonna be the heart and soul of our future and that's what this grant is helping to do," said Shumlin.

But some citizens of that new heart and soul are conflicted about whether the tear down fits the neighborhood.

"Tearing down a building doesn't really get us to where we need to go. I'm OK if it's a first step but it seems to me revitalization might be a better way to get the neighborhood involved," said Kam Johnston, a Rutland resident.

"Take it down. Take it down. This has been nothing but a trash house for at least three to four years," said Suzanne Williams, a Rutland resident.

The house at 37 Pine Street sat just several hundred yards from where a stabbing occurred Saturday. It's that type of activity that the mayor hopes to replace. He says he'll work with communities to decide what will take the place of the old blighted homes.

"There is going to be absolutely community outreach and a conversation with the neighborhood as to what specifically they want to use those properties for," said Louras.

Shumlin appropriated the money from a federal grant given to the state by the federal government. It will fund a two-stage program. The first stage includes the tearing down of the dilapidated homes, and the second stage includes encouraging private investment for rebuilds or working with communities to find a useful alternative for the state.

Louras reiterated that public money cannot fund the entire project; private investment in the land areas is a necessity. Groups like Habitat for Humanity may also build on some of the lots throughout the four to five year process.

The homes in Rutland will be torn down over the next four to five years.

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