Sampson Independent

Cost should not stop Turkey board

The Turkey Town Board is kicking blight enforcement up another notch, a move that should earn the kudos of residents who have urged their elected officials to do just that for months now.

It’s nice to see government that actually works for the people, and that’s exactly what is happening now in Turkey, where board members are currently exploring avenues they might use to condemn properties in the town that can easily be deemed unsafe, unhealthy and, therefore, unfit for habitation.

The town board’s actions over the last few months are a far cry from the turn-the-other-way attitude we saw from this same group late last year, when residents’ pleas to get properties cleaned up seemed to fall by the wayside like trash tossed from a car window.

Earlier this week, Turkey Commissioner Max Pope brought up the blight issue, referencing a home in Clinton that was recently declared unfit for use. Moves by Clinton’s City Council to begin condemnation and demolition likely sparked the owners to revamp the structure, something Pope said he hoped could happen in Turkey if board members would take similar aggressive actions.

While we know it is a delicate issue when one begins to talk about how a citizen keeps up their property, but when the property becomes unsafe and downgrades the town’s appearance, proving detrimental to the town and residents who abide by the laws, something must be done.

And it appears the Turkey Town Board has come to that realization. What’s more, it looks like they are truly intent on doing something about it.

Tuesday’s meeting was a first step toward enforcement. It will take many more, especially since some commissioners appeared to waffle a bit when cost factors were brought up. But we agree with Pope that the town cannot continue to have rat-infested properties that are dangerous to residents and those visiting the town.

“With all due respect to people who may have a different view on this regarding cost,” Pope said at the Tuesday meeting, “it’s a safety issue for the community and we need to move forward …”

We could not agree more.

Sometimes one has to bite the financial bullet, and in Turkey’s case this is one of those times.

The board has made great strides in the past six months to improve the look of the town, including cleaning up along the railroad track where pieces of metal, old tracks and splintering wood from ties have long dotted the landscape. That they are now looking inward to residents who have long refused to take it upon themselves to clean up their properties is a good next move, and one that has needed to be taken.

Cost has to be factored in, but it should not be a deterrent to doing what is desperately needed in Turkey.

No one wants to live in an unkempt area that looks more like the salvage yard than a quaint town. That is one of the reasons small towns have governing boards. Those members have done a great job of ensuring that CSX Railroad does its part to help the town’s appearance. Now its time for that same board to ensure property owners do the same.