GASTONIA, N.C. -- Neighbors along School Avenue in west Gastonia say there's a double standard when it comes to rundown buildings in their city. Specifically, the neighbors are speaking about the former Arlington Elementary School, which has been empty for 10 years.
"If homeowners have to keep up their properties, why shouldn't city and counties do theirs," asked Kathy Hamrick, who lives across the street from Arlington.
She's not alone. City Councilman Todd Pierceall is wondering the same thing.
He's pressuring the county, which owns the building, to tear it down.
"Legally, they're held to a different standard. Morally and ethically, they shouldn't be," Pierceall said.
Pierceall estimated that City Council has voted to tear down seven rundown houses around Gastonia so far this year. In most cases, a homeowner couldn't afford to fix it, and the city took out a lien on it.
"The city would not, and probably cannot take out a lien against the school system or the property," Pierceall said.
A Gaston County Schools spokesperson said the system can't afford to pay the $450,000 needed to tear down the school, but said the system's maintenance department actively works to keep the building in adequate shape.
Hamrick says homeowners can't use that excuse.
"Whether they have money or not, it’s still their property," she said.
The school system says Arlington is the only school in the district that sits empty, and efforts to sell it have been unsuccessful.