Official: Losing battle against war on blight - WNEM TV 5

Official: Losing battle against war on blight

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

TV5 told you about the residents of a local community who said the war on blight still hasn't come to their neighborhood.

They're demanding action from city officials on a number of neglected properties, which they said have become a danger.

The city responded to their complaints on Friday.

"The last 10 years or so I mean we've went from probably 500 to 1,000 vacant lots to over 6,000 vacant lots. And the amount of abandoned property or vacant property that's out there in the grass, with the funding levels that the city of Saginaw has is just not sustainable to be able to cut all of these properties every year," said Phil Karwat, director of public services.

Karwat said it's a losing battle. He said he only has four crews to manage thousands of vacant lots throughout the city. 

"We cut it, but by the time we made another cycle through it was back to 5 or 6 feet tall," he said.

Now local officials are exploring a new way to try and fix the growing problem on a long-term basis.

"We're looking at planting clover. We're going to plant some trees. We're going to do some different test areas on several plots," Karwat said.

He's trying to find creative options with a $150,000 budget - a budget not nearly big enough to mow all the overgrown grass.

"We would need somewhere between $3 million to $4 million," Karwat said.

The city does not receive any federal funding for lot maintenance. That money comes from the city of Saginaw's general fund.

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