ROCKINGHAM — City leaders received praise earlier this month for efforts to clean up one neighborhood in disrepair.
Bruce Stanback addressed the City Council at its August meeting, two years after joining Dr. Wanda Wall Spivey and others to call attention to the dilapidated, abandoned houses in the area south of U.S. 1 and north of Rockingham Road, stretching eastward to Long Drive.
“It’s obvious that some of them have been taken down, the lots are being cleaned up,” Stanback said. “And it makes a big difference in the community.”
Since that request, the City Council has approved demolition ordinances for eight houses in the area: 115 S. Skipper St. (June ‘23); 208 Boone St. (April ‘23); 117 S. Grove Ave. (February ‘23); 1003 Leak St. (September ‘22); 109 Kinney St. (August ‘22); 211 S. Brookwood Ave. (June ‘22); 206 S. Brookwood Ave. (April ‘22); 204 S. Brookwood Ave. and 302 Bush St. (December ‘21).
The process for the city involves several legal hurdles, including a title search and advertising notices in the local print newspaper, and can take up to 10 months. The price tag on a demolition can range from $4,000-15,000, Massey previously told the RO. Sometimes, the fire department is able to use the house for training.
The house on Skipper Street, which was damaged by a September 2022 fire, was used for a training exercise earlier this week.
Stanback personally thanked Mayor John Hutchinson for connecting the group with Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills, adding that they are working together to purchase properties and “determine what needs to be torn down (and) what can be built up.”
As Stanback pointed out, the effort isn’t just on the part of the municipal government.
Spivey herself is part of the revitalization, remodeling her childhood home on South Grove Avenue.
Florida couple Brian and Nicole Darling have also renovated several homes across the county in Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe.
“I think one of the most interesting things is, in the last couple of months, we’ve had individual citizens — young people, actually — who are purchasing some of those properties and are making improvements,” Stanback said. “As I rolled by on my way here tonight, I could not help but notice the work that is going on at the old apartment building …where it’s been gutted and painted and a new roof — that’s the result of some young people that have purchased the property, trying to make some improvements.
“It’s not a whole lot, but it’s a lot,” Stanback added. “There’s still a lot to get done, but working together, I think we can get it done.”
Stanback also thanked City Manager Monty Crump for addressing issues “that don’t relate to the houses … in a timely manner.”