Blight plagues Harvard Yard in Arkansas
(Crittenden County, AR) Harvard Yard, a once thriving subdivision is now full of rows of burned out abandoned homes that have become dumping grounds for trash.
Katherine Blanks has lived in the neighborhood 20 years.
“They are throwing garbage trash on the streets,” she says.
She keeps up her property but right across the street is a problem.
“That house burned 10 or 13 years ago. It’s still there. Not demolished, just there,” she says.
Vacant homes are now personal garbage dumps.
“Windows were busted out of it. The sheet rock was busted out it and copper fittings stolen out of it,” says Woody Wheeless, the Quorum Court Justice in Marion.
He has been working to clean up Harvard Yard.
The area is in an unincorporated part of Crittenden County, so people don’t get city services, like garbage pick-up.
They must pay for it and given the choice most don’t.
“We start seeing the trash thrown in the houses,” says Wheeless.
The County periodically sends in trucks to remove trash, and the Sheriff’s Department has cracked down on crime in the area.
“We have the properties under demolition and then the county puts a lien on that property. Property cannot be sold until they satisfy that lien with the county,” says Wheeless.
The county has torn down 15 houses since last year.
But with many out-of-state property owners, it’s a never-ending fight.
“The price tag on this piece of property is getting bigger and bigger because the county is having to do everything to take care of this piece of property because the homeowner refuses to do it,” says Wheeless.
Others are stepping up.
Recently, hundreds of bikers rode into town delivering clothes, shoes and other items to families in need.
Frankie Coleman is glad to see the interest.
She has lived in Harvard Yard for years and bought one of the abandoned homes to fix up for her grand children, “I put a roof on it. I had to fix the whole house up myself when I moved in it. It was gutted out.”
It’s exactly what the County and the people of Harvard Yard are hoping to see more of, people helping.
Crittenden County has created a clean-up account to cover the cost of tearing down abandoned houses.
It costs about $3,000 to tear down one home, so the funds are quickly depleted.
The county is going after property owners, hoping to get them to do their part to save Harvard Yard.