As we reported last week, the town of Blackville is looking to clean up its community and give it a "facelift".
While the mayor and council are begging property owners to do their part in making improvements to their properties, they are vowing to use code enforcement for those who do not willingly do their part. Code enforcement gives the town authority to require improvements be made, though they can direct to have the property cleaned up and the bill sent to the owner if they don't comply. The town can claim the property if the taxes and bill aren't paid.
The town received enough grant money to completely pay for the improvement of four properties. The town mailed letters to the four owners, however, two responded by telling the town to leave their property alone.
We understand people don't like being told by the government what to do, especially when it concerns their property, but we believe improving properties is a vital step in moving Blackville and Barnwell County forward.
Problem properties are nothing new for Barnwell County, but it's especially visible in downtown Blackville where there are several dilapidated buildings with caved in roofs.
The Shamrock Hotel is a prime example of this and is merely a shell of what it used to be in its heyday. The Shamrock is a touchy subject for some in Blackville, especially those who have tried for so many years to save and restore the old three-story brick building.
We understand the importance of preserving our county's past, but some places are too far gone and would cost too much money to rehabilitate. There are ways to remember where we come from while moving our community forward.
Bricks from the Shamrock could be preserved in a museum or utilized in a new way, such as a feature at a park. The walls of the old hotel possibly could be stabilized and used as an outdoor pavilion, park or farmers market.
Change is never easy, but sometimes it's better to let go and leave history in the past.
There is also the issue of money. How can cash-strapped citizens and business owners afford improvements to their properties when times are tough?
We certainly understand this concern, but there are things that can be done that would not cost a lot of money. Some properties just need a fresh coat of paint, a regular mowing and a little labor of love to clean things up.
For the ones that need more extensive repairs and deeper pockets, there may be funding sources available, such as the grant the town received, though apparently there are those who do not want free money. For those who wish to upgrade, now is the time to research funding resources.
We encourage all property owners to take a good, candid look at your properties. What can you do to improve it and, therefore, our community?
The town of Blackville is asking business property owners to do just that and bring their plan of improvement to an August 4 meeting. It will begin at 6 p.m. at the Blackville Community Center.
We hope there are more people in attendance at this meeting than there were July 26. Only a handful of business owners attended that one.
Code enforcement is a last resort for the town, but it's one that is needed if property owners don't take responsibility.
Improving properties, not just in Blackville but throughout Barnwell County, improves the look of our community. This in turn makes us a more attractive place to live, work and play. It might even make us more attractive to industries and bring in much needed jobs for our residents. More good paying jobs would trickle down to the entire community by helping schools, businesses, non-profits and our tax base.
We support any reasonable effort to improve our community!
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