The city will take the action after it became the owner of the three contiguous properties for nonpayment of property taxes.
The property includes a house that had served as the family home for Ronald and Mona Shafter on Rockland Street and the adjacent commercial junkyard, which handled scrap metal. The parcels total slightly more than a half acre.
The amount of taxes owed totaled more than $22,000. The properties are assessed at about $250,000.
City Manager James Chaousis said the city has received complaints during the past year from neighbors about the property, which ceased operating as a junkyard a few years ago. The wooden fence around the junkyard is deteriorating and falling down.
“The code noncompliance is egregious,” Chaousis said.
The manager said the city has contacted the former owners and gave them 21 days to remove any personal property they want from the house. He said the city would consider giving them an extension if needed. If the couple do not claim any personal property, the items will be considered abandoned and the city will handle the disposition.
The junk in the junkyard will be cleaned off the lot, likely in April, he said.
“There is too much public value at stake not to do anything,” Chaousis said.
He said if the former owners were interested in getting the properties back, the city would require not only the back taxes, interests and costs but also any expense incurred by the city in cleaning the junkyard.
The junkyard items will be removed regardless, he said.
If the former owners do not want the property back, the city would prepare it for possible redevelopment. The lots are located in a residential zone.
The city was aware that it might become owner of the former junkyard and has had some discussions about using money from its Brownfields account to study the property for potential environmental problems. The first step would be to conduct historical research on the property and then take soil samples.
The Shafter junkyard business was founded in 1914 by Ronald Shafter’s grandfather David Shafter. The founder’s son Samuel Shafter later took over the business and then, in 1971, Ronald Shafter began operating the business and continued for about 40 years but the 84-year-old man gave up the business a few years ago because of health issues.
In a 2010 interview, Ronald Shafter said that the junk business had changed considerably in the years he had been in the business with much of scrap metal being shipped overseas to developing countries, such as China.
A message left Sunday with the Shafters was not immediately returned.