Sumter County receives grant to demolish 19 blighted houses

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 12/13/18

Sumter County Council announced the award of an S.C. Department of Commerce grant of close to $300,000 for a project to demolish 19 houses in the Turkey Creek area during its final meeting of the year on Tuesday.

The $283,983 grant will be used …

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Sumter County receives grant to demolish 19 blighted houses

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Sumter County Council announced the award of an S.C. Department of Commerce grant of close to $300,000 for a project to demolish 19 houses in the Turkey Creek area during its final meeting of the year on Tuesday.

The $283,983 grant will be used to demolish the 19 houses for a two-year period starting this month and ending December 2020, Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said.

All 19 property owners voluntarily agreed to participate in the project and will retain ownership of the property after the houses are demolished, according to Mixon and council Chairman Jim McCain.

A lot of credit should be given to Chris McKinney and Kyle Kelly from Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments which presented the idea for the project months ago, Mixon said. The organization also spearheaded the effort to apply for the grant, he said.

Credit should also be given to the Turkey Creek Neighborhood Association that was critical in identifying the properties, Mixon said.

"Thank you very much," McCain said to members of the neighborhood association on Tuesday. "We appreciate what you all did."

"From day one of my being elected, one of the things that I always fought for was to remove dilapidated houses in the sixth district," he said.

The COG managed a similar project, the Neighborhood Initiative Program, in the city and demolished more than 100 blighted residential structures, he said. Sixty-four of those houses were in the part of the sixth district located in the city, he said.

The removal of blighted houses has been done successfully in the city, and this project will help county residents, McCain said.

"This is something special for the Sumter community," he said. "I think this is going to be a good thing for the south side."

In the big picture and in the long run, Mixon said, this project will help economic development and improve quality of life in Sumter for many years to come.

And this is not an issue that is unique to the sixth district, so hopefully the county can duplicate this effort in the future, Mixon said.

Blighted properties are a detriment to any community, he said, and hopefully this is just the first step.

Now that the grant has been awarded, the COG will manage the project for the county.