A dangerous eyesore has finally been cleaned up after the Ponca Hills property owner saw the story last month on WOWT 6 News and responded to neighbors' demands for action.
Fact Finders first reported about the mess three years ago left by a fire at an old dinner club north of Omaha near NP Dodge Park. It burned down four years ago, but neighbors worried the AriRang Club still had a night life. "I’ve seen kids up hear parked doing I'm not sure what. It’s attracting the wrong crowd. There seems to be continuous activity up here."
Not only did the hazard remain, including a wide open beer cellar, it was added to by the illegal dumping of dozens of old tires. Denise Knight lives just a dry hill away. "Fire could spread right through the woods, over the hill and to all the homes surrounding here."
Fresh graffiti showed Ponca Hills Fire Chief Joel Sacks the debris-filled building shell had become a hangout. "There’s enough combustible material that somebody is going to get ornery some night, light it on fire and then we got it following up into the hills."
“The owner has been there almost every single day since our TV cast and he's done a good job,” says Knight. The beer cellar has since been filled in with dirt and debris cleared away after the property owner hired a subcontractor to help with the cleanup. “Hopefully in a week or so it will all be cleaned up, knocked down and seeded or something,” says subcontractor Kent Clausen.
The shell of the club is now boarded up and soon barriers will block off the parking area. Even the overgrown yard has been mowed. “Great to see the progress that's been made,” says Knight. “It’s just 100 percent different. When you go by there it actually looks decent.”
Those 127 illegally dumped tires have been hauled away for recycling. “Now they wave when they go by, so it's a good deal,” says Claussen.
The owner said the property had been tangled up in red tape involving a lender. Only the garage will remain and be fixed up. The Gateway Pavilion will also stay and be refurbished. The cleanup cost an estimated $200,000.