Scottville commission takes steps to dismantle pool at vacant house.

June 20, 2016
The pool as seen from the alley behind the home at 205 N. Thomas St.

The pool as seen from the alley behind the home at 205 N. Thomas St.

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By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — The City Commission took action Monday night to take steps to fill in a swimming pool at an abandoned house at 205 N. Thomas Street. The home belonged to Barbara White who passed away in 2015. Since that time, no heirs have claimed the property. The bank currently has a mortgage with West Shore Bank but the bank has taken no action to foreclose, according to City Attorney Tracy Thompson.

The bank paid the most recent property taxes on the house and therefore the home could not be delinquent on taxes until 2018. City Manager Amy Williams said she contacted West Shore Bank and was told that the bank was unaware that it had paid the property taxes but it would no longer pay.

For many years, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the pool was an unofficial community pool. The White family allowed neighborhood children to use the pool, under adult supervision. Today, the pool is uncovered and cracking with standing, mirky water in it. It is surrounded by a fence, but it is not secured. Parts of the fence are partially dismantled and the gate is not closed. It is also next door to a daycare center. The pool, as it is right now, violates the city’s ordinance as a nuisance.

Commissioner Bruce Krieger said he was disappointed that West Shore Bank has not taken action to foreclose on the property. “Children could easily get onto that property and it is also a breeding ground for mosquitos,” Krieger said. I’m a little disturbed by West Shore Bank. They call themselves a community oriented bank, and I believe they are, but in this case they are shirking their responsibilities and leaving this up to the taxpayers of Scottville.”

Because the bank has not foreclosed on the property, it does not own the property, Thompson said, for that reason it is not currently responsible. If taxes are not paid for in two years the county can sell the property in tax auction. The city could also choose to condemn the property in the future and proceed with tearing the entire house down.

Thompson said legally the city is not responsible for the property unless it begins the process of removing the pool. “Right now it is not our problem. It’s not our property and not our swimming pool.”

Williams said the cost to tear apart and fill in the pool would be about $5,000, adding the pool cannot just be filled in but the concrete must be taken out and then filled in.

“If we don’t fix the problem we have the potential of owning something far worse,” said Commissioner Ann Genson. “As a commissioner and a representative of this city I would much rather take a hit of spending $5,000 to fix it than take a hit of having a child be injured or die there.” 

The commission voted unanimously to start the process of informing potential stakeholders of the house, including heirs to White and also the bank, that it plans to fill in the pool. In 45 days the city will then proceed if no one steps forward to remove the pool.

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