A lot of time and effort has been spent on trying to enhance the appearance and livability of Iola and stop the loss of population to other areas. Congratulations to the Thrive organization and the City of Iola for the grant to be received to build a footbridge over Elm Creek on south Washington Avenue. I look forward to the start and even more to the completion of the G&W grocery store on the old hospital site. The new apartments just north of the anticipated store will probably all become rented once the store becomes a reality. This will give a much needed boost to the east side of town. I thought the electric car charging station on the southwest corner of the square an innovative idea. Is this being worked on?
One area which is probably the hardest to tackle is providing more affordable housing within the city of Iola. While driving around town, I see a lot of old houses that need a lot of work to make them livable. Some are probably over 100 years old and too far gone to be economically repairable and should be razed. Nothing lasts forever, not even houses. Small factory built homes could infill the resulting vacant lots as well as the abundance of vacant lots around town where houses have been torn down in the past. Maybe they could be rented at an affordable price for the workers at the local industries.
How about those apartments on the 600 block of North Chestnut which are falling apart? Whoever owns them needs to rehab them to bring them up to an acceptable living standard.
The vacant former Guest Home Estates on North Walnut Street are slowly falling into disrepair. Could these be remodeled and turned into low-income apartments? The buildings seem to be structurally sound.
A lot of these deferred maintenance and repair problems with the serviceable homes could be accomplished by either the owners or, in case home-owners could not afford repairs, a city/county borrowing fund to pay for the upgrades. Surely a community that can come up with half a million dollars on very short notice to get the G&W store to get started could figure out how to do this. It would go a long ways toward solving a long-standing problem in our community.
Paul L. Zirjacks,