Contractor Dennis Reynolds and County Director of Permits and Inspections Director Patrick Conway stood on West Cecil Avenue, North East last week, minutes after walls came tumbling down.
Reynolds, who was the job low bidder at just over $17,000, took down a house which had long been a haven for drug users and squatters.
Cindy Haulsey lives next door to the property, which is across the street from the North East police department.
"There were a lot of derelicts going in and out all hours of the night - homeless druggies. No one took care of anything. We cut the grass and trimmed the hedges. People would walk through our yard and they made a path. The police caught people in there in broad daylight," said Haulsey.
Before Reynolds demolished the home, police officer James Just had work to do. Just walked through the home checking every nook and cranny to make certain no one was inside. "We don't want a vagrant in there when the roof falls in. I saw cigarette butts and empty heroin packages," said Just.
Reynolds said he saw syringes.
"I'm glad to see it gone. It was an eyesore for the town," said Officer Just, as he directed traffic around the demolition. He closed a lane for safety and then swept the street to ensure no vehicles struck any loose debris.
"I'm very happy with every one that we've done. This is the first one in a town (in town limits)," said Conway. Demolition contracts have also been awarded for a home in Charlestown and one in Crystal Beach. "We had a court order to do it. But having the authority to do it and the money to do it is two different things. This has been pending for at least two years. It festers. We wish the process was quicker," said Conway.
The county has been moving forward with the removal of uninhabitable, unsafe, and homes in which the structural integrity has been compromised.
Back in fiscal year 2014, County Executive Tari Moore moved forward with plans for a demolition program for unsafe homes. The plan moved ahead in fiscal year 2015. In that year, five homes were taken down.
Homes at Ragan Road, Conowingo, Turkey Point Road, North East, Locust Street in Crystal Beach, Earleville, Carpenters Point near Perryville, and Bainbridge Road near Port Deposit have been removed.
"We go through the process. We give them (the property owner) the opportunity to take them down. If they fail to do so within 60 days, we take court action and the court gives us authority. Once the work is completed, the fees for the demo, and the attorneys are paid by a tax lien against the tax bill," explained Conway.
"This has been a very successful program We're trying to get the ones that need to be demolished where they need to go. We know there are more out there but I have no idea how many. Baltimore City has 30,000 abandoned structures. We see them here. We know there are out there," said Conway.