SALISBURY — One unruly property that has been a black hole for city services and demanded regular police attention was finally demolished Tuesday.
The Thrift Travel Inn, located at 603 N. Salisbury Blvd., has been a “thorn in the city’s side for years,” according to Mayor Jim Ireton.
“It’s been condemned multiple times and year after year it’s been a huge draw on our city services, constituting 1,500 calls for service to our city departments over its history,” Ireton said.
Now, those departments will be able to focus their attention to other areas, added Ireton.
Salisbury Police Department (SPD) Chief Barbara Duncan shared Ireton’s view that the Thrift Travel Inn, due to its reputation for attracting trouble, has been an anchor around Salisbury’s neck that demolition has finally cut loose.
“This truly is a very exciting moment for the Salisbury Police Department,” she said. “One-thousand six hundred calls combined for the Salisbury Police Department and the Neighborhood Services … What this means for us is we will no longer be dedicating police resources to respond here to investigate runaways, robberies, serious assaults, or domestic violence incidents. This was an incredible drain on our resources available through our agency to the greater Salisbury area.”
According to Duncan, SPD has been responding to calls at the Thrift Travel Inn as recently as this October, despite the fact that it has been vacant since September of 2010. It has been condemned three separate times, according to Ireton.
Susan Phillips, the Housing Supervisor for Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance (NSCC), added that, beyond calls over disturbances and tenants, the physical structure of the Thrift Travel Inn has been a concern for years.
“It’s been tireless hours spent at this building doing inspections, doing re-inspections, preventing the building from any serious safety violations,” she said.
The inn was a “public nuisance,” concluded Phillips, and one Salisbury is glad to see gone. The sentiment was echoed by Salisbury Fire Department (SFD) Acting Chief Rick Hoppes.
“We have had great concern over the condition of the building,” he said.
While everyone involved expressed relief to see the building destroyed and the space freed for possible future re-development, Ireton took a moment to chide the City Council for what he considers lax enforcement.
“The City Council has got to start to take seriously ‘Three Strikes’ legislation because this would not have happened if our ‘Three Strikes’ legislation was part of our city law,” the mayor said.
Ireton’s “Three Strikes” initiative is part of his larger “Safe Streets” proposal. The “Three Strikes” legislation is designed to recover costs the city has to incur by repeatedly responding to trouble rental properties, either through SPD calls or NSCC.
After three calls or “strikes” against a rental property within a year, the said property would be put on notice. A fourth response would result in a $100 fine to the owner and the location would be tagged as a disorderly property. A fifth strike would trigger a $250 fine and the owner would be required to submit a formal written management plan to the city. At a sixth call, a $500 fine would be levied and rental registration for the property could be suspended, revoked or denied for up to a year.
Before beginning the demolition of the Thrift Travel Inn, Ireton urged residents of Salisbury to reach out to the council in support of adding the legislation into city law with the claim that troubled rental properties like the inn will occur less often and be dealt with swifter.