City of Washington

Washington city officials say they will continue addressing the issue of abandoned and dilapidated homes in the city.

However, that can be a difficult problem to deal with through municipal court.

“We have to follow procedures,” City Counselor Mark Piontek told city council members this week.

Two homes on East Main Street were brought up during the meeting. Councilman Walt Meyer said he continues to hear complaints about the homes — one a brick home west of Locust Street and “the pink house” east of Locust.

City Administrator Jim Briggs said the brick house hasn’t been lived in for nearly eight years. It’s believed that house sustained severe water damage when pipes burst and flooded the home when no one was there.

Piontek said the owner of that home left the area and it has “taken forever to track him down.”

He was located some time ago in Montana and then showed up in southeast Missouri where local authorities had him arrested for failure to appear in Washington city court for city code violations.

Piontek said the owner posted bond on the failure to appear warrant, then left the area and his whereabouts are not known.

“We’re still working on it,” Piontek said. The municipal judge has issued a new warrant for the man with a higher bond amount, he said.

“This is a common problem statewide,” Piontek told the council. “There’s no really good solution.”

“The guy who owns it pays the taxes on it and there are no utilities to the house,” Piontek said.

He said he and Briggs inspected the house and “it doesn’t appear to be falling down.”

Meyer said the deck is falling off the pink house which has other damage as well. He said he’s been told the owners of such property get off with paying a small fine.

But that’s not accurate, according to Piontek.

“Our objective is to get any problems corrected,” he said. “We don’t just allow them to pay a fine and go on their way. They are required to correct any problems first.”