ATLANTIC CITY — The team of city code enforcement officials met up at North New Jersey and Magellan avenues shortly after 10 a.m.
After being briefed on the specific areas of Bungalow Park they each would be responsible for that day, the six inspectors parted ways.
The walk-throughs are part of an effort to update Atlantic City’s 2016 list of more than 500 abandoned properties. The city has 12 compliance officers to cover 11 densely populated square miles.
In the coming months, the city will do a walk-through in every ward.
Armed with a clipboard and a cellphone, code enforcement officer Clint Walden went directly to Connecticut and Melrose avenues, an area with which the city native is all too familiar.
A vacant building on the corner, which was once home to Friendship Outreach Deliverance Ministries, was Walden’s first stop.
From the street, he pointed up through a second-story window toward the structure’s ceiling. Or rather, where the ceiling should have been.
The clear blue sky and its puffy white clouds could easily be seen through a hole in the ceiling.
“The city is going to take them down,” Walden said of the property at 302 N. Connecticut Ave. and the neighboring building at 308. “They’re scheduled for demolition, probably in the next three or four weeks.”
Walden and the team of code enforcement officials were taking part in a regular practice of cataloging the city’s housing stock, looking for vacant or abandoned properties and documenting others with clear violations. The intent is to determine properties for demolition or those that could be rehabilitated or refurbished.
On his clipboard, Walden meticulously worked through an abandoned-property checklist.
He and the other code enforcement officials combing through Bungalow Park that morning were looking for disconnected electric and gas meters, boarded up windows and doors, whether the exterior was in a state of disrepair and other signs of neglect.
During Walden’s walk-through of the neighborhood, several residents — some he knew personally, others strangers — stopped him to offer their observations of properties in need of attention.
“The city has been working diligently to get money for demolitions outside of the Tourism District,” he said. “Bungalow Park is an area and a community that is concerned about blighted conditions.”
Elaine Jones, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, said it was sad to see a once thriving, working-class community being tarnished by blight.
“It’s sad because the homes have history, they have families,” she said. “This neighborhood is still a big family.”
Jones, 59, said the neglected properties “tear down the fabric” of the neighborhood, bringing down property values and contributing to concerns about safety.
But Jones, who several times during an interview on the street corner stopped to say hello to a passerby or wave to a friendly face, said she loves Bungalow Park and refuses to give up on it. She said the civic association was doing the work to restore Bungalow Park to its former glory, with the continued assistance of City Hall.
“This is a great place to be, so we want to keep our neighborhood vibrant. But don’t tell anybody, because we’re not accepting anybody new,” she said with a smile.
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