DIXON – Lee County is jump-starting a project to demolish and clean up abandoned properties in the area with $100,000 in federal money.
The Lee County Board recently approved allocating American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project, which was prompted by complaints from community members.
The goal is “to identify and address those abandoned properties that are dangerous to life, safety, health or other property,” according to the project funding request.
The funds will cover the attorney fees and demolition, repair or enclosure costs.
“It will allow Lee County to immediately begin addressing those properties which jeopardize the life, safety, and health of its citizens,” the request said. “Other potential funding sources are abandoned property grants, and the subsequent sale of a property following remediation. We are in the initial phases of researching grants which may be available to support and continue the project.”
The project was created by a group of county officials consisting of board members Mike Koppien and John Nicholson as well as Sheriff John Simonton, Lee County State’s Attorney Charley Boonstra and Jennifer Kolb of the Lee County Health Department. Tim Zollinger was appointed as Special Assistant State’s Attorney to pursue legal action on abandoned properties identified by the county.
Demolition and site remediation will make up the bulk of the costs, Boonstra said.
The starting point for the project is a decrepit two-story house at 122 Cherry Street in Compton.
“The unoccupied residential structure on this property is substantially deteriorated and deemed to be a dangerous and/or unsafe building,” the request said.
The property has been vacant for years, and there’s a buildup of delinquent taxes since 2018.
The Lee County Health Department condemned the property on Nov. 23, and the county is anticipating a court judgment deed next week, at which time the county will be authorized to take possession and remediate the unsafe conditions.
Nicholson said the village of Compton might be interested in buying the lot after it’s cleaned up.