Family fights demolition order

The home located at 610 Parker Ave., Poteau.
Jenny Huggins
News Reporter

A Poteau home is slated to be demolished next week, according to Mayor Jeff Shockley.

The house at 610 Parker Ave. is owned by Patsy West. West, who is bedridden after fighting brain and breast cancer, was unable to speak and give a comment on the situation. The current occupant is Jimmy Janway, who is disabled and lives at the home rent-free while he makes improvements.

West’s daughter and granddaughter have started an online petition asking for the public’s help with saving the home.

According to Janway, they have spent $2,000 on improvements and cleanup and continue to try to comply with the city’s wishes.

“We’ve cleaned up the trash, removed stumps so the yard is able to be easily mowed, painted and cleaned up the inside of the house,” West’s daughter, Bridget Evans, said. They said they were given the final notice last month that the house would be torn down Tuesday if not before.

Shockley said the city sees the matter as one of legality and safety in which they have fulfilled all of the requirements to justify demolishing the house.

“There is a process for objecting to the decision,” Shockley said. “Those time frames have come and gone on the property.”

According to the family, they were given numerous reasons why the city wanted to clean up the property. Being an eyesore, no utilities, public nuisance, not clean enough inside and improper electrical wiring were reasons the family says they were given for the registered letter and door postings they received about the house.

Shockley said because it is so close to the Poteau middle school, children could walk by and be hurt by the property.

“If it’s a danger, we must do something. I’ve learned that when the City Council says to take action, I must take action,” Shockley said.

The family disagrees with the decision to continue with the demolition. “We did everything they told us,” Evans said.

The cost will be approximately $3,500 to tear down, clean up and fill the empty space with dirt to leave the lot completely empty.

“It will probably raise her property value to have the house gone, in my opinion,” Shockley said. West will still retain ownership of her property but a lien for payment for the demolition and cleanup will be placed on the property until West can pay the city for the destruction of the home.

“I don’t know of any place that I can afford to move into,” Janway said.

He plans to place a tent on the property after it is demolished and to continue to use his solar panel and generator for electricity while continuing to walk to West’s home, his friend and landlord, to use the water.

“If someone is starting to fix on it, shouldn’t they back off?” Janway asked.

“I’ve been spending money and doing my best and now I feel like I’ve thrown money at something they’re going to tear down anyway.”

Shockley said the city mainly works off complaints by neighbors and citizens to investigate homes.

The family questioned why their house was being targeted when many other structures in the area are in worse shape. A house directly behind West’s residence has shattered glass and windows facing the road beside the home.

See the full story in Friday's print edition of the Poteau Daily News.