The City of Sullivan continues to make progress, using a blight elimination program to take out eye sores and make way for improvements.
Over the years, Sullivan has used a $1.1 million dollar allowance from the state for improvements.
Since the beginning of the blight elimination project, the city tore down seven on their own.
After joining the state funded program, 10 blighted homes came down.
And now, two more will be completed by the end of this spring, making a total of 11 for 2016.
This plot of land still has a lot of work to be done, but residents are thrilled to see the change.
“I was born and raised here,” says Betty Grubaugh. “I’m 86-years-old. And I’ve seen a lot of North side been changed and a lot of changes in this town since I’ve been born. And I’m glad to see it growing.”
A functional town is capable of rebuilding and renovating without losing its charm.
And as Sullivan Mayor, Clint Lambs, says restoring the beauty of Sullivan also restores something else.
“We are truly making a significant impact in the community,” says Mayor Lamb (D). “And we could talk for hours on this subject, but it’s basically restoring hope. It’s restoring pride.”
Yes, removing these problem houses reduces crime and raises the property value but the mayor believes the blight elimination program has done more than that.
“If you drive along East Washington Street or any part of town, you’re going to see something coming down,” says Lamb. “And what we’re finding out now actually, is that some of the homes coming down are not just the homes on the blight elimination program.”
“I drive around and see the houses they have torn down and I can remember what they used to look like,” says Grubaugh.
The bare plots of ground show residents that this transformation doesn’t come without sacrifice.
And residents know that this change is also necessary for progress.
“It makes it, our city look nicer,” says Grubaugh. “You go and you drive by these houses that are falling in and think, ‘gee, that looks bad.'”
Mayor Lamb knows that patience is a virtue and his message for his citizens is just that: be patient and great things will come.
“If you come in and clean up your neighborhoods, give them a curb appeal, increase the assessed value which funds police and fire, gives them a change to get out and walk, and give them a sense to build themselves up, I think it all starts right there,” says Lamb.
Lamb tells me that not only is the City of Sullivan working to rid the town of plagued homes, but it’s also working to add new business, upgrade lighting on the square and build and maintain better sidewalks.
And after all that is said and done, properties like this, will be turned into prime housing opportunities for residents.
Several other communities in the Wabash Valley are also taking advantage of the blight elimination program, including Vincennes, Brazil, Washington and Terre Haute.