With the wet August in Parsons, complaints grew about as fast as the grass and weeds in parks and at other city properties as public works employees struggled to keep up. According to the K-State Southeast Research and Extension Center, the city received 8.12 inches of rain in August, compared to 4.32 inches in August 2016.
Besides the weather, one reason city workers have struggled to keep up with mowing this year is the number of lots that need to be maintained. “We’re trying to take mowing lots off the rolls one by one,” Jim Zaleski, the city’s economic development director, said.
The city has a free land program that gives lots to people planning to build a new home. Recently Zaleski also started a program that gives city-owned lots to adjacent property owners. The FEMA lots, though, can only be leased, with no construction allowed on them.
The city bought some lots years ago with the idea of having someone develop them or for affordable housing programs that never were completed. One such example is at Newell Avenue, a cul-de-sac off of South 26th Street south of Briggs Avenue. The city had a housing program that built homes for low- to moderate-income people, but only a couple of houses were built on South 26th before the program was abandoned because it was too difficult to find qualified buyers through the program, which required a good credit rating besides an income below a certain level. Newell Avenue remains undeveloped, with only empty lots that the city must mow.
Other lots the city acquired through people giving them to the city.
“We’re definitely not doing that anymore,” Zaleski said of buying or taking donated lots.
He added the city will buy property only if there is an immediate need for a lot or if there is a viable potential for future development.
(Read more: Parsons Sun)