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Weslaco Offers Incentive to Demolish Abandoned Structures

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WESLACO – A new program in one Rio Grande Valley city is taking a new approach to get rid of abandoned homes.

The city of Weslaco is contacting landowners and offering to remove debris from the properties for free if they agree to tear them down themselves.

Jose Vasquez, a Weslaco resident of more than 30 years, said this is good news for him, his family and his neighbors. He takes pride in his side of the street.

"It is a peaceful place and here nobody messes with anybody, we live in peace," he said.

Vasquez told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the house across the street from his home was abandoned about 10 years ago. Since then, he has witnessed its decay.

He said he's pleased the city is doing something to get rid of these homes. He adds if he could get permission from its owner, he and his neighbors would tear down the place across the street themselves.

"Because it is beneficial for the community and for everybody, even for the city of Weslaco," said Vasquez.

Weslaco health official Joe Pedraza said the city has mailed information on its incentive program to 18 abandoned homeowners.

Pedraza notes the demolition of these buildings will be handled on a case-by-case basis. If owners do not respond or agree to take the structures down, he said the city will take matters into its own hands.

"We'll take it to commissioner's court and at that point, they will give us our permission to demolish a house," he said. 

Pedraza said if Vasquez or his neighbors get written permission from the owner of the house across his street, the city is OK with the idea of them tearing the house down.

"They could do it. The whole purpose of this project, the clean sweep project, the dilapidated structure project, is beautification for the city," Pedraza added.

Pedraza said he hopes residents take advantage of the program. He anticipates the city will have demolished 18 structures by April or May of next year.

He said they will either come down through the incentive program or by city crews demolishing them themselves.

According to Pedraza, if the city only has to clean the debris from a demolished home, the cost will be about $2,000 per structure. If Weslaco has to tear down the home and remove its debris, the cost to the city will be about $6,000-7,000 per structure.

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