• 32°

Our View: Enforcement approach is fresh start

City leaders sent a strong message Wednesday, essentially telling property owners it is time to clean up the community and follow the maintenance ordinances.

The Winchester Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to test a new approach when it comes to property maintenance and code enforcement, one we believe was a long-time coming and will help the city shine like never before.

The idea is to move away from the current complaint-based system to a proactive approach that empowers an employee with the Winchester Police Department to actively seek out and address violations.

This is much-needed and will have a huge impact on the appearance of our community.

The goal isn’t to raise money or harass citizens.

It is simply past time all property owners — business and residential alike — are held accountable for the maintenance and upkeep of their buildings, especially in the downtown.

As proposed, the city’s parking enforcement officer will take on these duties as an experimental approach in hopes this can be sustained without filling the vacant position.

Although we believe there is enough work for a full-time employee, we understand the economics of operating a city Winchester’s size in this climate of ever-increasing costs.

So, we challenge city officials to fully commit to this approach and provide the necessary training for the individual who will be taking it on and give it time to work.

It won’t happen overnight and it will be critical to stay the course.

We also urge our leaders to prepare for the inevitable backlash that will come from long-time — and possibly influential — violators who will put pressure on the city to go back to the old ways of essentially turning a blind eye to property maintenance and building code violations.

We simply cannot move backwards.

Winchester is ready to move forward and this is a solid step in the right direction.