There’s no more room at the inn

........................................................................................................................................................................................

And the walls came tumbling down.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: Although they share no blood, Kathy and Jim McDonald, top, and Leroy Bogan, below, are family. Bogan, a retired veteran, lives with the McDonalds in Rio Communities as a participant of the VA’s medical foster home program.

On Thursday, Sanchez Demolition, Inc. began a week-long process to remove a condemned building located in the center of Belen and long-standing eyesore — the former Freeway Inn.

The building, located on 324 S. Main St., is the second property to be demolished through a nuisance abatement resolution aiming to abate and remove ruined, damaged and dilapidated materials and structures.

The first property knocked down by the ordinance was an abandoned single-family residence on 509 S. 13th St.

Tearing down these two structures has been an ongoing process, and one Mayor Rudy Jaramillo is excited is “finally happened.”

“(The Freeway Inn’s) been an eyesore not just to the neighbors, but the whole community,” Jaramillo said.

For more than two years, city officials worked with property owners to move the city in a direction “where we’re seeing improvements to our existing buildings and those that can not be salvaged, demolished,” said Councilor Jerah Cordova, who introduced the abatement resolution.

“Having the Freeway Inn, which is certainly one of the most significant, demolished is a big achievement,” Cordova said.

Removal of the hotel was postponed by about three weeks after the property owner asked the city to allow them time to find a cheaper demolisher. Officials moved forward when the property owner failed to fine one.

The city began acting on two nuisance resolutions, adopted in April, after setting aside $100,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which became available in July.

Upon demolition, property owners are ordered to provide future security of the property, according to the ordinance.

A lien will be filed against the properties for the cost of demolition and removal, along with attorney fees.

Demolition comes more than three years after property owners were issued notices to remove their buildings.

The old boarded up hotel, owned by Frank R. Sanchez and Anne Louise Tolles of Long Beach, Calif., has sat vacant for more than five years and deteriorated further due to a lack of inadequate site security or protection from entry and exposure to the elements.

The two-story home, owned by Robert M. Archuleta and Crystal D. Archuleta of Rawlins, Wyo., was damaged more than three years ago from a fire and left exposed to the elements since.

Introducing these resolutions impacted the community to where properties around Belen are being demolished or improved allowing for businesses and residents to move in, Cordova said.

In the past six months, Tommy’s Lounge was demolished and renovations were completed at the former Gil’s Bakery property, the old Belen Health Department, the old Central Hotel and the former Belen Print Shop.

“It seems like property owners in Belen are motivated and are improving their properties in a way that’s giving a boost to Belen and Belen’s economy,” Cordova said. “That’s more exciting than anything.”

The city will continue its efforts by coming up with a list of buildings needing to be demolished and recovering funds used to demolish the hotel and house, Cordova said.

With the overall process of demolishing abandoned and condemned buildings in place, city officials can move forward with a second ordinance, where property owner’s would register their vacant buildings with the city and be charged fees for their vacant property.

“We just want to take it in a different direction instead of the buildings and homes staying there for a long time and nobody can do anything about it,” said Belen City Councilor Wayne Gallegos.

The city’s rates committee is developing a fees structure to be implemented with this ordinance.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.