So what can you do when an abandoned or foreclosed property in your neighborhood is a mess?   Calhoun County has a new plan to clean up these places.  Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer announced  an aggressive initiative on Thursday that uses funds from the county's Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund.  He says the fund gets revenue from an 18% penalty paid by homeowners who are late on paying taxes,  He says money also comes from the sale of properties sold after foreclosure. Wensauer says the fund also pays for upkeep and demolition of properties, and also pays the shortfall in city and school taxes when a property falls off the tax rolls.

Wensauer said its time for the county to do what it can to clean up properties sooner, rather than later.  “I’ve been visiting foreclosed properties for the last several weeks and talking to neighbors who are understandably concerned about living next to or near a property that, in some cases, has trash and debris littered throughout the yard.  That isn’t fair to people living in those neighborhoods, which is why I want to clean up these properties so they aren’t eyesores while we work to get these properties back on the tax rolls and into productive use.”

The county contracts with a local company that works with the foreclosure team to do the actual clean-up work.  Wensauer says there are currently 193 foreclosures in Calhoun County, although some are just vacant parcels of land.   He says they've already cleaned up a half dozen properties, and have plans in the works to do many more.

Wensauer says things are steadily getting better in Calhoun County.  “Neighborhoods across the county, particularly in Battle Creek, have been improving by leaps and bounds: Foreclosures are down and home sales are up.  I want to build off this continued success by cleaning up foreclosed homes and properties so they aren’t a blemish in our neighborhoods, a magnet for crime or a dumping ground for trash and debris.”

According to the City of Battle Creek, vacant properties are transitioning back into productive use at a faster rate than in years past. In fact, from May 2016 to February 2017, 221 vacant properties have been returned to productive use and back onto the tax rolls.

Here's a before and after look at one property at 660 Westbrook, off of Raymond Road..