Carl Thibodeaux, at left, current West Orange Alderman and former Orange County Judge, leads Rex Peveto in the oath of office as City Attorney. Peveto was appointed to the position officially on Monday, June 13, and replaces longtime City Attorney, Joe Alford, who died in late-May. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

City leaders are once again looking to clean-up the City of West Orange.

City councilmembers officially approved moving forward in the process to demolish five more properties in the City of West Orange during Monday’s council meeting at City Hall. The properties, some of which have been vacant and in need of repair or removal since Hurricane Ike, are just the latest in a continued effort to keep West Orange beautiful and moving forward.

“These properties have been determined to be substandard and unsafe by the Code Enforcement Officer (Dean Fuller) and we have attempted to locate the property owners,” said attorney Alan Sanders, who represents the City of West Orange in this effort. “We have tried to locate them by using the Orange County Appraisal District, utility records, addressed on the deeds of properties and even the white pages, but a few of the mailings have been returned as undeliverable for a variety of reasons.”

The structures on the latest list for demolition included properties at 1003 Albany, 2019 Bonnie, 2007 Crabtree, 1015 Lansing and 2431 Smith Street.

Councilmember Carl Thibodeaux informed council that one of the property owners had contacted him about the proposed demolition of the unidentified property and had no opposition to the demolition.

“This individual is fine with the demolition of the property, but they wanted to know what their options are if the house is demolished because they cannot pay for the cost,” Thibodeaux explained. “This person was very honest about their concerns.”

According to Mike Stelly, who serves as the Public Works Director for the City of West Orange, as well as Chief of Police, the individual of any of the respective properties being considered for demolition would have two options.

“If they are unable to pay for the costs for the demolition of the property, then a lien could be placed on the property,” Stelly said. “At the end of the process, council could choose to reduce the costs or abolish the lien completely.”

Sanders recommended council allow a period of 30 days be given as notice for any action to be taken on any of the properties following the vote of the city councilmembers.

Councilmember Dale Dardeau made the motion to approve the demolition of all five properties and allow for the 30-day notice before any demolition procedures could begin. The motion was approved unanimously by council.

According to Mayor Roy McDonald, the demolition work will be placed out for the bidding process following the expiration of the 30-day notice period and once a bid or bids are accepted, the work can begin to demolish the structures.

In other news, councilmembers officially approved hiring Rex Peveto as the City Attorney at Monday’s council meeting. Peveto, who received his oath of office from current West Orange councilmember and former Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, fills the position previously held by longtime City Attorney, Joe Alford, who died in May.