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Decay

| September 2, 2005 12:00 AM

During the summer and fall of 1992 there was considerable excitement and lobbying to pass a decay ordinance that was included on the November ballot. People wanted the Libby area — especially areas to the south — cleaned up.

The decay ordinance passed.

3,581 to 2,364.

60.2 percent to 39.8 percent.

But there was very little effort to clean up.

After it passed, I can't remember the subject coming up publicly again. Also, I can't remember a documented, or at least reported, instance of the ordinance being put to work.

The EPA's arrival and cleanup efforts since about the year 2000 or 2001 have done more good cleaning up properties then the much ballyhooed ordinance.

Why?

Because it's not a good move politically for the county employees or the county commissioners. It's been that way since the ordinance passed and the same philosophy most likely existed long before that. The employees don't do anything that may draw heat on the commissioners and the commissioners certainly don't do to themselves.

It's called survival. Or at least hanging onto a good-paying job.

The Libby Revitalization Inc. crew represents a return to the feeling and desires that led to the decay ordinance being put on the ballot and passed. Their meeting Wednesday with the commissioners was not the first time, and it's evident people are getting frustrated by the lack of action on the county's part.

The commissioners, obviously don't like to be told what to do, especially after nothing has been done for 13 years.

Based on our reporting, the county is looking too much like the city council. Hopefully, this issue won't be lost on someone's desk without a follow-up by one, if not all, of the commissioners.

It would surprise me if the commissioners don't force some kind of movement on the issue — perhaps put a mechanism in place to bring the ordinance to life so enforcement is possible.

Whatever the outcome: The cleanup will take some time.

The best solution is to designate a cleanup period each spring and provide opportunities for people to unload offending possessions. If we could find some trucks and trailers, as well as labor, to help move this stuff from yards — with the property owners' permission — we might get some of this settled without ruffling too many feathers.

Then again, there are some property owners out there who need a more heavy-handed approach such as enforcement of the county law.

We should offer to help cleanup properties on an annual basis. It would increase the speed with which we want to accomplish the goal of clean up — Roger Morris