KINGMAN - A group of Downtown Kingman residents is looking for a heap of helping hands. The group is attempting to clean up neighborhoods on the south side of the railroad tracks.
Resident Gordy Klein started the campaign by contacting Neighborhood Services Officer Jerry Mitchell. Mitchell pointed him in the direction of an older neighbor who was having trouble keeping up with the maintenance on her home.
Mitchell is in charge of city code enforcement for the South Side area. He often runs into older residents who don't have the strength, energy or funds to keep up their properties.
If a resident doesn't keep his or her property up to city code, Mitchell gives them a warning. If the property isn't cleaned up, the city sends an abatement letter giving the owner 30 days to clean up the property.
The city is even willing to give a free Dumpster to residents who have an abatement notice in order to encourage them to clean up their properties.
If at the end of the 30 days the property isn't in compliance or at least in the process of being cleaned up, another letter is sent. That letter gives the owner five days to clean up the property or the city will do it for them.
It costs the city about $1,500 to rent a Dumpster to clean up the average property, Mitchell said.
Once the city is finished cleaning, a lien is put against the property. Despite the lien, the city doesn't often recoup the costs of the cleanup.
Mitchell said he doesn't like to be the bad guy, but city codes have to be enforced for the health and safety of everyone in the community.
That is why he is excited about the South Side cleanup group.
"This gives everyone a better taste in their mouths. It saves both the property owner and the city money," he said.
Mitchell met with the group Tuesday morning.
"I'm happy to see all these people here. They have made a pretty big investment down there," he said.
Many members of the group have bought, renovated and cleaned up properties in the South Side area and are looking to help out their neighbors.
Mitchell has agreed to help the group identify property owners who are looking for help in cleaning up their properties.
The city has offered free Dumpsters to help the project along.
"It's very tricky. You can't force too hard. These people have their pride. You have to go gently, slowly. You have to have tolerance," South Side resident Rosalie Hunt said. The group has to be willing to bend and let the resident keep some of their treasures, she said.
"We don't want them to feel like we're shoving it down their throat," Mitchell said.
At the same time, the group needs to make sure that items that are a fire, safety or health hazard are disposed of properly.
"If you can get people themselves to do it, it's a lot better than standing over them with a whip. It gives them a sense of pride," Mitchell said. "I hope to see this catch on with other groups."
For more information, call Gordy Klein at 753-7671.