Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Blight action prompts bigger look at city


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Ironwood — With the Ironwood City Commission’s blight action on a long-time problem residence on Monday, the commissioners called upon all residents to clean up this spring.

Commissioner Kim Corcoran said that with the commission taking action on one residence on Monday she wanted the city to consider something more constructive than punitive. She took the opportunity to drive around the city recently and noticed a number of properties with blight issues, and along Copper, Oak, and Ironwood streets in particular, she said. 

“I hope that we can be more proactive and are not always waiting for people to complain,” Corcoran said. 

The city has approved its annual spring cleanup event for April 30 through May 1, she said. The event usually occurs on Ayer Street in March but with the pandemic the Army Junior ROTC students of Ironwood Area Schools were not able to provide the labor this year, self-drop off event at bins will be placed behind Ironwood Public Safety Department and will be available on April 30 and May 1.

“This is a great opportunity to notify people in person that we’re having a cleanup and advise them to take advantage of it,” Corcoran said. 

Commissioner Joseph Cayer said the community spring clean up efforts have been amazing. It is sad that so much of it is to clean up after people who throw garbage out their windows, he said. 

There are situations of wind catching the recycling bin and blowing trash around but a lot of it is from littering, he said. There are groups of people going around and picking it up. 

“I want to recognize Steve Frank who picked up 96 bags of trash,” Cayer said. “No one asked him to do it. Other people went out and helped him also. That’s nice that people want to take a little pride in their town. If everyone picks up a little bit it goes a long way.”

Commissioner Rick Semo said the city has done a good job of finding funding to tear down blighted properties. He said the city also needs to focus on problem yards that just need cleaning up. 

“We need to find ways to make it easier for people who want to clean up to dump their refuse,” he said. 

The commission, 5-0, adopted a resolution declaring that a public hazard and nuisance situation exists at 39 Newport Heights S., and that, unless clean up has occurred by May 3, the blight will be removed and abated under the direction of the city manager. 

The motion was amended to allow the May 5 deadline by Cayer. He said the progress report from Andrew DiGiorgio, director of Ironwood Public Safety Department, and city blight officer Jason Alonen, seemed to indicate the owners have made progress since the third and most recent blight notice was sent on March 17.

“I know that there was a good effort made on the front yard in the past two-and-a-half weeks,” Alonen said.

The action followed a public hearing prior to the regular meeting in which three neighbors of the problem property called to ask for the city action.

The called into the meeting to express concerns about years of yard debris, wind-blowing debris to area yards, numerous dogs that have killed one neighbor’s pet and present a concern for the safety of area children.

Semo wanted some assurance that the action taken would be to address an actual violation of the city’s blight ordinance and not merely acting on a perception of blight. The yard does not look presentable but the action should be on the ordinance, he said.

The blight is a violation of the ordinance, Alonen said. 

Mayor Annette Burchell asked about limits to the number of dogs in a house within the city. City Manager Scott Erickson said he would research the topic but did not believe there was a limit on the books.

Commissioner Jim Mildren said blight becomes more of an issue when the city’s inventory of vacant homes is decreasing with the higher market demand for real estate. As for problem animals he said it’s about being respectful of neighbors and not infringing on their rights.

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