GREENFIELD — A sunflower hat hangs from a dusty old mirror. A child’s puzzle waits, unfinished. Trash and debris litter the floor.

Remnants of a life once lived at 19 Tague St. in Greenfield lay forgotten, left behind in a house city officials say has been neglected so long it’s no longer safe to remain standing.

The structure is one of three houses targeted for demolition, unless property owners — who have failed to respond to multiple requests to clean up the mess, officials say — make immediate repairs.

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The other homes sit at 315 W. South St. and 773 S. Pennsylvania St. All three are abandoned.

As part of Greenfield’s unsafe building program, city officials are tracking as many as 24 dilapidated properties they say pose a risk to public safety. In addition to the three already being considered for demolition, six to eight others likely need to come down, said city planner and building administrator Joanie Fitzwater.

The planning office has created a priority list, with the worst properties at the top, and the Tague Street home – owned by a local man — is marked as priority No. 1. It has broken doors and windows, a memorandum to the board of works states. It’s falling in on itself; some rooms have no floor.

The other two homes haven’t fared much better, documents state; doors and windows in the house on South Street — owned by a couple now living in Florida — don’t close, and the roof is falling apart. The mobile home on Pennsylvania Street is also in severe disarray, and the doors and windows aren’t secure, the memorandum states. It’s owned by a development company.

Repairing or demolishing the homes is estimated to cost taxpayers about $35,000 this year. That number could rise if the homes contain asbestos, which requires a special team to remedy because of the health risk the mineral poses. It appears the home on Tague Street contains asbestos, Fitzwater said.

The city will try to recoup the cost by billing the property owners through tax liens on their properties.

City officials say they’ve sent at least five warnings and citations to each property owner about the disrepair but have received no responses.

On Feb. 5, the city sent the property owners an order to repair the homes or demolish them within 10 days. So far, the property owners have not complied, and the city could legally move forward with demolition, Fitzwater said during two city meetings this week.

City officials requested property owners appear before a board of works meeting to testify about their plans for the properties, but none of the listed owners came forward.

Several legal steps still need to be taken before the city can move forward with demolition, Fitzwater said. And the process could take up to five months.

Now, the city council will have to decide how to pay for repairs or demolition should property owners do nothing about the dilapidated homes. The planning department’s budget for addressing dilapidated properties in Greenfield is $10,000 for 2016, which leaves officials about $25,000 short of what they will need to demolish the properties.

Fitzwater has not yet asked the council to budget the remaining funds, but she asked members Wednesday to consider it, because odds are, the homes will need to be demolished, she said.

Historically, the city has not demolished unsafe homes, Fitzwater said. Typically, the city would have the homes boarded up to keep people and animals out only.

Now, the city council budgets $10,000 for addressing unsafe properties. In 2014, the city demolished a property on West Fifth Street that had been on officials’ radar since 1996. The homeowner had died, and no heirs stepped up to make the needed repairs or destroy the house, officials said.

So far, the city hasn’t recouped the cost for the demolition.

The demolition program is part of an effort to remove eye sores from the community, and it’s important for the city to address problem properties, Mayor Chuck Fewell said.

Several years ago, millions of dollars were available for addressing dilapidated properties through state and federal grants, but now that pot is dwindling. Officials plan to go after grant money that becomes available, Fewell said.

But officials will likely have to use city funding to pay for demolition and associated costs.

Councilman Kerry Grass, who represents the city district where all three homes are located, said dealing with the eyesores will make the district safer and more appealing. Right now, those homes pose risk to children and residents and could serve as homes to vermin and other animals.

“If the homeowners won’t step up and take care of it, the city has to,” he said. “It’s a matter of safety.”

19 Tague St.

The city of Greenfield sent several notifications, warnings and citations to the property owner of 19 Tague St. during the past 18 months alerting him the home’s condition violated city ordinances. Here’s a breakdown of when those communications took place:

Sept. 8, 2014 — no response

Dec. 9, 2014 — no response

Feb. 10, 2015 — no response

April 29, 2015 — no response

Dec. 10, 2015 — no response 

On Feb. 5, an order to repair or remove the home within 10 days was sent to the property owner, and the city received no response.

315 W. South Street

The city of Greenfield sent several notifications, warnings and citations to the property owners of 315 W. South St. during the past 18 months alerting them the home’s condition violated city ordinances. Here’s a breakdown of when those communications took place:

June 25, 2014 — no response

Aug. 12, 2014 — no response

June 3, 2015 — no response

July 14, 2015 — no response

Dec. 10, 2015 — no response

On Feb. 5, an order to repair or remove the home within 10 days was sent to the property owner, and the city received a certified mail receipt.

773 S. Pennsylvania St.

The city of Greenfield sent several notifications, warnings and citations to the property owner of 773 S. Pennsylvania St. during the past nine months alerting the company the home’s condition violated city ordinances. Here’s a breakdown of when those communications took place:

May 27, 2015 — no response

Aug. 19, 2015 — no response

Oct. 29. 2015 — no response

Dec. 10, 2015 — no response

On Feb. 5, an order to repair or remove the home within 10 days was sent to the property owner, and the city received a certified mail receipt.

By the numbers

Three properties have been targeted for demolition.

Twenty four properties are being monitored.

Demolition costs about $10,000 to $15,000 per property.

If the structure contains asbestos, remediation adds about $4,500 to the overall cost.

The city of Greenfield budgeted $10,000 in 2016 to address problem properties.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.