Village: Blight is hazardous to community

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Enforcing Calumet’s blight and dangerous buildings ordinances has become a priority of the DDA, due not only to the unsightliness of decaying structures, but also because they are a hazard to the public.

CALUMET — Blighted and dangerous buildings in the village are not only unsightly but also a hazard to the public, according to the chairwoman of the Downtown Development Authority.

Leah Polzien made these points recently to the Village Council in urging it to enforce the blight and dangerous building ordinances.

Trustee Peggy Germain questioned the selective nature of this movement on blight. She wanted to know about six properties in the village that have been placed on a blight list and who selected them.

“We’re talking about this ordinance,” Germain said. “We have 143 others. Why aren’t we enforcing every ordinance, or get rid of them all? We’re saying we’re going to pick these three.”

Polzien said she receives many comments on Main Street Calumet’s Facebook page, asking why the village does not do something about the buildings that are falling down.

“So, this is our attempt to do something about this,” she said. “I can’t concern myself with every ordinance in the village, but as the director of the Main Street program, and as the chairperson of our Downtown Development Authority, I feel that it’s our responsibility to work on the dangerous building issues that we have in the buildings in our downtown. Now, we don’t have the capacity to address every building. I cannot fix every building that’s here. I can’t.”

Village Attorney Jim Tercha said that some people want transparency in government actions.

“So here is an opportunity to let people know that this is something that’s happening. That’s transparency,” he said. “People are saying they want transparency. Passing a resolution on this is transparency.”

Trustee Virginia Dwyer said the blight and dangerous building ordinances are a priority, because many buildings in the village are an actual threat to public safety.

“There are some buildings, for instance there is one on Fifth Street,” Dwyer said, “that if you go into that alley, and there are a few up and down that alley, the bricks might fall on you, because most of the bricks are falling off the building.”