City’s slum clearance move on Kuhn a positive move

Published 1:50 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Vicksburg officials have taken a big step toward removing an eyesore, by putting the old Kuhn Memorial Hospital building under the city’s slum clearance ordinance.

It’s a significant move, because the slum clearance ordinance allows the city to take over a building, renovate or demolish it, and sell the property to recover any costs. It also means the city may be able to bypass the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s requirement requiring an asbestos assessment of the building before the city can take it down.

The reason? The building is starting to come down on its own.

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“The roof on the front building is starting to collapse and with that, it gives us an opportunity in working with DEQ and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to initiate legal action to take that building down,” Community Development Director Victor Grey-Lewis told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday.

But putting the building under slum clearance is only the first step. Before the city can take it down, it has to follow certain steps required by state law before moving ahead with the wrecking ball.

The next step in the process is an Aug. 24 hearing on the building in Grey-Lewis’ office that involves everyone with an interest in that building.

During that hearing, they will be required to present a plan to the city to either renovate the building or take it down. If no one attends the hearing or presents a plan, Grey-Lewis will present an order to demolish the building to the board.

All of this takes time, and right now, the pressure is strong to take Kuhn down, but in order for the city to avoid any legal problems, officials will have to follow the law closely.

The Kuhn building was vacated by the State of Mississippi in 1989, and has remained vacant since, despite attempts by the city, the state and private business to find another use.

It’s good to see the city get a potential opening to finally be able to take it down and hopefully open the property for the possibility of some positive development.

Kuhn has been a problem for the city for years and should have been reduced to rubble years ago.

We commend the city for taking advantage of a possible loophole to move forward and remove a hazard from the community.