(Forrest City, AR) The fight against blight isn’t just a Memphis battle.
In Forrest City, Ark., business owners are fed up with how long they’ve been dealing with an eyesore.
It’s been 15 months since a major fire destroyed five downtown buildings, and one property owner is dragging his feet with his part of the cleanup.
Now mosquitoes and rats have opened shop in what’s left of one building.
The pile of bricks and twisted metal is not an appealing sight.
It’s something Forrest City restaurant owner Roger Breeding is sick of.
“The debris is less than one hundred feet from the entrance to our patio area.”
He owns Mallards Grill and says the debris is from a massive fire on Front Street in May of 2012.
In the remains of one collapsed building, the basement is full of water and has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Those mosquitoes head straight for his restaurant patio.
“If you want to find out just how bad the mosquitoes are in this area, all you have to do is be here tonight around 8:15, 8:30, and you’ll find out.”
Breeding’s invested a lot of money – $500 in one week – putting up automatic mosquito sprayers and placing a can of OFF on every table.
Local property owners have already cleared burned debris from their lots.
But Roger Breeding, who is also a Forrest City alderman, says the eyesore is owned by a businessman in West Memphis who doesn’t have the money to clean up the mess.
“The gentleman that owns it should have already taken care of it. I feel like he’s costing my business money.”
Alice Adams runs a thrift store named Kaleidoscope.
She wants to see the vacant property, where the fire happened, developed into something beneficial for downtown Forrest City.
She said the pile of rubble needs to be removed before another year goes by.
“It just looks nasty and causing rats and mosquitoes and flies. And we should get it cleaned up cause it would make the city look better.”
The city has condemned the property and will now have to pay someone to remove the debris.
The cost will be tacked on to the property owner’s taxes.