LIMA — Blighted housing has been one of the chief talking points for Lima mayoral candidate Keith Cheney’s campaign, and on Thursday, he received an endorsement from one of the key players in creating the Allen County Land Bank.
Allen County Treasurer Rachael Gilroy endorsed Cheney’s mayoral bid during a media conference held in front of 813 Oak St., one of the properties acquired by the Allen County Land Bank for demolition. This property, Gilroy said, demonstrates the serious problems that dilapidated properties bring with them to the city.
“We’re standing in front of one of the nearly 250 properties owned by the Allen County Land Bank,” she said. “This house is so structurally unsound that a deputy handling security for our county land bank fell through the floor, luckily catching himself before he fell through to the basement. Without the existence of the Allen County Land Bank, this house would most likely have gone through the normal foreclosure channels due to non-payment of taxes and then been sold to another owner, which could have had tragic consequences.”
Gilroy expressed frustration with the narrative that the city has been a key collaborator in the county land bank. While a city representative does have a seat on the county land bank board, Gilroy said that the most the relevant contribution the city has made has been to provide its demolition list, which “contained properties of all sorts, not strictly properties that were qualified for land bank acquisition,” she said.
“Mr. Cheney continues to be a vital resource, whom I consult with regarding regulations, mandated reporting and demolitions,” she said. “Cheney has also been present during numerous board-up days and was able to observe personally the county land bank procedures and our progress.”
Cheney said that this issue highlights a concern for public safety, and he expressed gratitude for Gilroy’s work and her endorsement.
“I continue to work with her on a regular basis, and that’s because I’m concerned over the conditions of houses in our city and the safe havens they provide for drug users and squatters,” he said.