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Bainbridge to demolish ‘nuisance’ house

City plans to demolish this 4926 McDonald Avenue home after failed attempts to work with the property owner to fix the dilapidated building. - Courtesy Photo
City plans to demolish this 4926 McDonald Avenue home after failed attempts to work with the property owner to fix the dilapidated building.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The city will soon begin the demolition process for a house on McDonald Road that has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it has become dangerous and is considered a public nuisance.

The city’s Planning Department asked for a $22,500 budget adjustment for nuisance abatement because the property owners have been unresponsive to city requests to revive the dilapidated home.

In an effort to have the costs covered, the city will bill the property owners and pursue a lien on the property if the owner does not pay the city back. No one has lived in the 4926 McDonald Avenue home for several years and the city has been unable to locate the owners as the state of the property has worsened.

As per Bainbridge municipal code, the city can abate dangerous buildings. City staff said this week that the McDonald property has become a public safety threat, and there is evidence found in the two-story house indicating that vagrants and youth have trespassed.

“I have been there, and it’s a place that looks like scary things are happening,” said Mayor Kirsten Hytopoulos.

The city identified the building as “dangerous” in 2008. The property owners initially secured the building with a chain and boards as a temporary measure to keep people out. Since then, the house was broken into and used for various purposes. The property owner has also gone silent and unresponsive to city requests.

City officials were also working on a run-down property in the Wing Point area, but the owners of that house have since listed the property for sale and entered into a contract to demolish the structure after it was secured by the Bainbridge Island Fire Department.

Both houses have broken windows, large holes in the ceilings and floors, and represent a threat to public safety, officials say.

Interim City Manager Brenda Bauer said the property doesn’t appear to have any outstanding liens. She said the money used to front the costs will come from a planning department budget appropriation.

The city has obtained bids for the demolition work, which will include removal of the three demolished structures on the property: the house, an adjacent mobile home and an accessory building. The foundation has to be removed because of the hazard potential of having an in-ground structure that can fill with water. It will then be covered with grass seed.

When the issue was first raised at the May 4 meeting, several council members expressed concerns with the likelihood that the city would not receive the funds from the property owners to cover the costs, and questioned whether the city should first attempt to take the property owners to court.

“If we go to court then that means getting someone to come to the table and pay for something they haven’t been responsive to,” said Bauer. “The likelihood of getting the money first is probably [not good].”

After checking with the city’s legal counsel, the city decided to go ahead and continue with the demolition and lien process.

Planning Department Director Kathy Cook said this is the first time since she has been with the city has designated a property as a public nuisance.

The city’s code enforcement officer will work to set-up a date for the demolition after the contractor is selected.

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