Travis shares opinion on property issue

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Do you feel, in general terms, that the dilapidated properties issue by the Demopolis City Council is a good project?

I believe absolutely in trying to make Demopolis better and bringing up the buildings, but I think it has been terrible mishandled from the very beginning. It has allowed personal vendettas to get involved. There has been a lot of dishonesty and too much politics and not enough hammers and saws.

What are some issues you see with how the city has handled the dilapidated properties situation?

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If I had been on that committee and we had identified things, what I would have done is say, suppose you have John Doe and John Doe has 12 properties, and John Doe has had properties in the past. Look at what they have done in the past. For instance, every single property I have ever owned in Demopolis was better when I left it. You know the yellow house on Main Street? When I bought that house the front porch was gone, it was laying on the ground in pieces. The house I am in now I have completely redone. I have redone this whole office and intend to do more things, which was my next project. I don’t like the pink shingles or like that you can see air conditioners, but that might not seem like anything compared to the blue building (on the corner of Commissioners Avenue and Washington Street) but it is over there where nobody goes. This building (the office) is on highway 43, and it is business, and by the bank and everything else, so I would rather take the money I have had to use for that blue building and put real cedar shakes around the top of this one and raise it up where you don’t see the air conditioning.

I would have look at all the properties of each person they identified. I would call them personally and talk to them about it, and as long as they were making improvements as a whole &045; like if they had six properties and they were fixing them one after another &045; I would leave them alone. Maybe try to redirect their attention, but I wouldn’t harass them when you know they are working as hard as they can on something else.

When they sent out the letters, the only thing I have ever seen from them, they said tear it down, and I don’t think that is right. One particular member went over to the East side of Demopolis and told people, who weren’t even on the list, that if you don’t tear it down the city is going to do it and send you a bill for three times what it was. We have lost several row houses because of that, three that I know of because of that, and we don’t need to need to lose any more row houses. They were not bad, they had antique furniture in them and that is how I found out about it, because they called me and asked if I wanted to buy it. That was a crime, so I am real concerned. If they had been doing this fifty years ago, Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall and Gains wood would be gone.

When it comes it comes to following laws, you don’t pick 12 people and say we are going to make these people follow laws first. It is everybody or nobody. The final word I have to say abut this property is that it was built industrial and it is going to stay industrial because it grandfathered in. According to city laws they shouldn’t encourage me to keep it industrial but it can stay industrial as long as I want it to. I can take it residential I just don’t want to.

Do you think this was agenda driven?

I think they went at it with really good intentions. They had a good idea. They had something that needed to be done, something that needed to be addressed &045; and was being addressed by the way. They kind of got into this vigilante attitude and then they got angry and started taking things personally, I think a lot of things were personal to start with and then they got vindictive.

Your property has already been abated by the city correct?

Yes, I have fixed the roof twice. When I first bought the building I fixed it and then Ivan came it was torn down. I was trying to plan what I wanted to do next and when this came up I said, fine, I’ll just put the tin back up. Then they said I had to clean up the back part, and I told them I wasn’t cleaning it up because I use it to store wood for barbequing and am in and out of there all of the time. I told them I would cover up the windows in the back, which I did. Recently someone bought an ad in the paper and they had to remove the tin from the windows to take the pictures. If the tornado had removed the tin it wouldn’t have been sitting below the windows in the picture.

The person who is personally driving this right now is too vulnerable, and I am not going to fight him &045; I am just not going to do it. I am just going to go on and do what I intended to do in the first place when I bought the building. I am going to repaint it, because I hate that blue. The city made me paint it. I am going to paint it back the way it was, in a neutral color, with the vines on it. I am going to take out all the doors and patch it, and I will put in new ones that will show off the curves and architecture.

Has the property become a problem for the city again?

The first time I knew there was a problem with the city again was on Friday and it came out in The Demopolis Times, a friend called me. I said was crazy, I was abated for that in November and the person talking about it to the city council isn’t even on the Citizen Taskforce. I said it didn’t make any sense, this is personal, so I called the mayor and the council. I was upset because no one had called me about it. All of them told me something different from the other

It occurred to me to just go ahead and do what you were planning to do anyway and get the stuff, the personal stuff, cleaned up. I have never received a letter since it was abated I November. All I know is what I read in the paper.