It’s time for city to go after derelict commercial property in Vicksburg

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Monday said the city will begin cracking down on vacant and derelict commercial buildings.

It’s about time.

The current Board of Mayor and Aldermen has followed a policy of strict code enforcement in the city’s residential areas and that policy has helped clean and improve several problem areas in the city. But while the board has been enforcing the law on the people the mayor called “the little man,” it has not enforced the city code as stringently on the city’s commercial property owners.

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“We cannot continue to come in here and chastise the little man, the small guy, and take his property from 60 days with 30 days progress and then let these big old giant buildings — one next door (the old post office building),” he said.

“People have got all this money and look at these (vacant commercial) buildings, and then you want to keep beating up on these little folks about a car in their yard or a dump truck in their yard, and then you walk by these big old buildings and nobody says nothing. That’s embarrassing to me.”

Flaggs is right. How can the board continue to come down hard on someone because his grass isn’t cut or he has a car in his yard when a nearby vacant building in disrepair sits on an overgrown lot or a lot littered with trash? Besides the old post office, another example of a large neglected building is the multi-story old Mercy Hospital building on Grove Street, and there are dozens more all over the city.

When Flaggs took office in 2013, he promised to leave Vicksburg “in a better condition than when I found it,” and is doing that, working to improve the city’s economy and making the downtown area a place where people want to go. But all the work to make the city a place where people want to come is wasted if we don’t improve the way we look, and eliminating vacant dilapidated commercial buildings, especially on our major thoroughfares, is a necessity.

We applaud the board for its decision to start cracking down on commercial building owners violating the code. And now that they’ve made their decision, we’ll be watching to see if they enforce the codes with the same fervor as they have in the residential areas.