And then there were four.
Following Hurricane Ike the city of Bridge City had nearly 100 vacant and uninhabitable houses in the city, according to City Manager Jerry Jones. Now they’re down to four. “After the storm, we had a group of prisoners on a work program,” he said. “We had a Gradall (heavy equipment machine) attached with grapples. If a house was not livable, we would tear it down and clean up the lot. We had almost 100 of these.”
Jones said the work program stopped after no more inmates were available.
The remaining four will be torn down in the next few weeks and then the program will end.
One of the first on the list is one on Beverly Street. Some concerned residents who live next to the abandoned property brought it to the city council’s attention at their last meeting in mid-June. “These houses need to be taken down. We’ll have a crew with a Gradall. Before (with the prisoner work program) there was no charge, but there will be a charge this time for the dumpster clean-up fee,” Jones said. Jones said the city has a dilapidated structures ordinance on the books which encourages owners to tear down the substandard structures or to fix them up or face charges.
“We try to work things out. Clarence (Philpott), our building inspector, sends out letters,” he said. “There’s just a few to comply with. The majority are down.”
After Ike, the city had a line item in the budget to demolish the structures. The only cost was for the dumpsters with Republic Services.
“Most of the people in Bridge City came in and did what they had to do,” Jones said. “When we remove a dilapidated structure it opens up a lot to build on. It’s freed up to build new structures. There’s not a lot of room in Bridge City. We’ve come a long way and we’ve cleaned up immensely.”
Jones said if residents know of a dilapidated structure they may call the city at 409-735-6801.
In other city business, a new insurance office and a plumbing service building will soon be built on Rachal Street.
Construction on the splash pad should start in September with a possibility of moving up the start date.
Jones said $3.5 million of bond money is scheduled to be released on July 2 so the city can work on the  filtration system at the water plant. The final numbers for the project are still being worked out and it is hoped the work will be completed by the end of the year. A 12-inch water line is still planned for Sunnyside Street and the city’s water tank will still be rehabilitated and repainted.
Changes were made for the new police station and sent back to the architect. The new station will  be built behind the Race Trac filling station on Texas Avenue.
The pressure tank for the Waterwood addition has been ordered.