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Grant allows Berwyn to fight blight with summer help

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 6:45 p.m. CDT

BERWYN – There are seven more pairs of eyes looking for blight in Berwyn this summer thanks in part to a $75,000 grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Abandoned Properties Program.

The City Council approved a resolution authorizing the execution of the Abandoned Properties Program Grant Agreement when it met June 24. The grant program allows the city to seek reimbursement for previous efforts to eliminate blight through cutting grass and weeds, trimming trees and bushes, pest extermination and the removal of debris, garbage and graffiti.

It also allowed the city to hire seven young part-time, seasonal blight inspectors from the community to canvas the city and identify blighted sites and report them to the full-time blight inspectors.

The goal, Assistant City Administrator Evan Summers said, is to ensure neighborhoods are well maintained through the summer months. The summer inspectors start beginning at 9 a.m. and the city's blight inspector hands out assignments as to where problems have been reported. The summer inspectors, who can be identified by their blue shirts, then head out in their cars or on bicycles to follow up on the complaints.

"They go back and report there findings to the blight inspector who then determines if a ticket needs to be written," Summers said. "Generally we leave a red tag telling the homeowner that a problem has been identified, like their address not being displayed on the garage. People don't understand that it's a safety issue," Summers said.

The rest of the time, the summer inspectors patrol on there own to identify potential problems.

This is the first time the city has hired part-time summer inspectors, all made possible through the grant.

"We've wanted to do it for a while; and it seems to be working out wonderfully," Summers said.

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