Empty Shepard Street house will be taken by city

City Engineer Mark Cressotti. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – The Legislative and Ordinance committee voted July 23 to recommend an order of taking of 47.5 Shepard Street by way of eminent domain for the Westfield River Levee Right of Way. Included in the recommendation was approval of a $52,000 expenditure from the Flood Control budget for the taking.

City Engineer Mark Cressotti said that more than half of the house at that address sits across the property line of the Westfield River Levee. He said the couple that owned the house both passed away, and their heirs were unable to get the title to sell it, and have stopped paying taxes on the property

Cressotti said the City of Westfield has negotiated a price for the property below its appraised value as the settlement amount plus will pay the $15,000 in taxes due, the total of which amounts to the sum of $52,000.

City Attorney Shanna Reed referred to it as a “friendly taking,” and the easiest way to clear the title. She said there were probate issues on the heirs’ side, and they would never be able to get a mortgage or sell the property because half is on city property.

L&O committee member James Adams said the couple passed away many years ago, and asked if anyone has been in the house since that time.

Cressotti said since then, the heirs were trying to get a mortgage and sell. He said the city is prepared to demolish the property. He also said the money is in the Flood Control budget for this purpose. “We can’t have any structures on the levee that will affect its structural integrity,” Cressotti said, adding that the property will be useful to the city as it is also adjacent to the Whitney playground..

L&O Chair William Onyski asked if the demolition would be coming out of or in addition to the $52,000. Cressotti said he wasn’t sure, and would check before the City Council voted on the taking.

L&O member Michael Burns said he was glad it was a friendly taking.

“The Engineering department and the Flood Control Commission have been interested in this property for many years. While it was lived in, nobody wanted to make a move,” said Reed, adding that it will be a useful property for the protection of the levee.

A motion was made and passed to recommend the taking and the funding to the City Council at its next meeting.

To Top