"Welcome To Cedar Rapids" Sign Taken Down, Mess Still Remains

By Addison Speck, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids welcome sign brought some unwanted traffic to a southwest neighborhood. Neighbors said it drew more negative attention to a messy property.

At the end of May, a house at 713 3rd Street Southwest caught fire. For a month and a half, neighbors have dealt with a pile of charred debris. A few days ago a large "welcome to Cedar Rapids" sign was posted in front of it, and the overall look was far from inviting.

"I thought it was for President Obama at first but then I got to thinking about it and I was like why would you put it in front of a flood damaged home," said Theresa Goode-Smith. She and her family live across the street from the property. Goode-Smith doesn't know who put the sign up, but couldn't believe the response it got. "Everybody comes by to take pictures," said Goode-Smith. The sign could be easily spotted from I-380.

The home had been vacant since the flood of 2008. Since it caught fire in May, Goode-Smtih and others have been waiting for the property owner to clean it up. Todd Whitters Construction LLC, is the listed owner of this property. They have a P-O Box address in Walford, KCRG couldn't find a website for them, and KCRG tried several phone numbers for them but they all were disconnected. It turns out the City of Cedar Rapids can't get ahold of them either. The city said they were told by the company shortly after the fire happened that they would remove the debris. The city issued a notice to the company on July 3rd, telling them to remove the debris by Friday, July 13th or the company will have to appear at a hearing on the 17th.

While someone took it upon themselves to remove the sign on Thursday afternoon. It was just added to the pile of rubble that neighbors said they shouldn't still be dealing with.
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