Houses on Oak Street not going anywhere

— If the wind blew hard enough, it looks as though the three small houses along Oak and Ninth streets just might topple.

The little box houses have sat with their windows boarded and doors nailed shut for close to a decade, some even longer. The homes are across from Centennial Hall on land worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But it is not likely the land, or the houses that sit on it, will sell anytime soon. The city contacted the owner, Mavis Guire, in the late 1990s to ask if she would sell.

She refused and one relative said her mind has not changed since.

The city wanted to buy the land for possible affordable or employee housing, City Public Information Officer Lauren Mooney said.

"The city had looked into the block of homes to consider purchasing it for employee housing or affordable housing, but a relative of the owner said she pretty much was not interested in selling," Mooney said. "At this point, that is where it stands."

Guire could not be reached for comment.

Condemnation has been talked about from time to time, but Mooney said the city has never considered it. She said code enforcement officer Shane Jacobs checks on the buildings and when windows need to be boarded or other codes are not met, repairs are made.

The city code enforcement officer works under Assistant Chief of Police Art Fiebing, who said the city ordinances and municipal court does not have much teeth in cleaning up junk cars or junk houses.

"Municipal courts and City Council do not want to take a hard line on this," Fiebing said.

Former Council President Bill Martin rented one of the three homes in the mid-1970s.

He said Guire inherited the homes and land from her father Hebert Young, who bought the property in the 1920s. When Martin was president of council in the early 1990's, the houses were still being rented.

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