WELLSTON, Mo– When human remains were found in a home on Page Avenue two weeks ago, it was torn down almost immediately. Some Wellston residents wonder why the same action can’t be taken all over town.
Sharon Owens told FOX2, “It’s not just about the one house, because I’ve got like 13 houses that I know of.”
Owens says the vacant homes around her are now beginning to burn. She said, “It’s scary, because are they being caught on fire because somebody slept in them and needed heat, or were they putting them on fire deliberately? I don’t know.”
She says people are constantly going in and out of empty homes to use drugs or steal pipes. Owens added, “This is happening so often now that it’s happening during the day.”
The North County Police Cooperative is investigating the home on Page where police found human remains on September 14th. So far, evidence indicates the two people were using drugs when they died in the basement months ago.
The walls of the home had to be knocked down so officers could safely get inside. Then they ordered the entire home demolished for the safety of everyone in the neighborhood.
Owens is pushing leaders to demolish other homes quickly. She said, “I’m hoping that this interview helps gets some of this stuff done faster.”
Farrakhan Shegog added, “We are the people who see these issues every day. We are the people who have to deal with these issues every day.”
Shegog also lives in the area. He’s a community organizer and Director of the Federation of Block Units for the Urban League.
He said, “Wellston is plagued with vacant and derelict residential units and homes. It’s also plagued with vacant and derelict commercial and industrial sites as well and that speaks to the overall comprehensive strategy and comprehensive plan that needs to be in place.”
We spoke outside of a now-closed lightbulb plant that will soon be torn down. Shegog explained, “Once this building is demolished – what’s going to happen to the lots? Once the homes are demolished, that have been derelict for years, what’s going to happen to those lots?”
Shegog says it’ll take vocal residents like Owens and others to make a difference. He said, “I think it’s very important for every single citizen to be engaged, to be educated & to be empowered about the particular issue at hand so that we can know who and where to hold individuals accountable so that stuff like this won’t happen.”
This Saturday morning Shegog will be touring the area to look at problem buildings and discuss possible solutions with other community organizers, youth leaders, and residents.
You can join the Wellston Coalition Vacancy Property Tour. It will start at 12 pm and meet at Isabella Park 6323 Isabella Ave St. Louis, MO 63133