Community project cleans up 700 abandoned properties

More than 700 abandoned properties will be cleaned up in East Orange.

More than 700 abandoned properties will be cleaned up in East Orange. (7/14/15)

EAST ORANGE - A new community program in East Orange will work to clean up the more than 700 abandoned homes in the city. The project is designed to help cut down on crime and improve city living.

David Price lives on Oak Street. The home next-door to him has been vacant for the last four years. He says he was very surprised to find city employees outside one morning clearing the property.

"To see some of the things that have taken place recently, I look for a positive change," he says.

The city received a $50,000 grant for the project. The grant enabled Mayor Lester Taylor to hire a dozen workers to clean up all the overgrown properties. The goal is to have them cleaned by the end of summer.

"My business is to create a clean and livable community," says Mayor Taylor. "We owe it to the residents for quality of life. Good is not good enough. We have to go from good to great."

Another goal of the project is to find the property owners and hold them responsible for allowing the lots to decay. Once found, the owners will be issued a fine of up to $4,000.

The mayor says all fines collected will go back into the program. The city hopes to expand the clean-up into the winter months.

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