Letter to the editor — February 21, 2018

Dear editor,
A recent public notice first published in the Register on Jan. 25 lists 49 separate pieces of real estate in Allen County that will be sold at auction at the courthouse on March 7. Of these 49, 26 are for vacant lots in Iola.
In the past several years, the city has been relentless in condemning various houses and going through the legal process of eventually tearing them down. I have no particular problem with this as these and many others are in excess of 100 years old and are just worn out. What I do have a problem with is the lack of any sort of plan to replace these houses.
I am told that builders will not build houses here because the cost to build is too high compared to what they are able to sell them for and realize an acceptable profit. Prices have gone up faster than local wages, thus putting any possible new houses out of reach of prospective buyers.
The city needs to broker some sort of deal with the committee designated by county commissioners to encourage local business development. Maybe they can use some of that Enbridge pipeline money to pay contractors to build homes on these many vacant lots and get them on the tax rolls. Vacant lots  bring in very little money. If the wind farm deal comes to a reality, that would be another good source of money.
Can’t something be worked out to build some small new houses to fill all of these vacant lots around Iola?
Paul L. Zirjacks,
Iola, Kan.