Work progresses on Historic Northeast home

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

A new roof is being installed on a historic home in the 400 block of Bellefontaine, which had partially collapsed earlier this year due to heavy rains. The house was known to many as the “cougar” house because of the large, plastic puma on the front porch.

John Baccala, Community Liason with the KCMO Neighborhood and Housing Services Department, gave a brief update on the current state of the structure, saying headway was being made on the new roof after the owner, Janice James, signed over the deed of trust.

James has been continually fighting to save the home.

The roof has been disassembled and tarped and workers will begin putting on the new roof while the weather allows.

Baccala says estimates on the cost of the repairs is unknown, but will not be anywhere close to recent estimates, which were up to $33,000.

“We were able to work with a lot of community partners to do a lot of the work on a reduced-fee basis. Much of the interior work was done in this fashion and we have used various outlets including the Municipal Court Fund,  Love Thy Neighbor, and individuals who came forward and wanted to help a neighbor,” said Baccala.

He said the main concentration is recognizing that there was somehow a disconnect in the process and this issue is being addressed at City Hall to ensure it does not happen in the future.

“More importantly, it’s about doing the right thing, and this was the right thing, to fix the home.”

Baccala said the time estimate for the completion of the roof is going to take longer because they are going through greater steps to  ensure the roof’s viability for long-term stability of the house.

“The truss-style roof will take longer to build, but will last longer and will be more structurally sound than a standard roof will be. We are taking extra steps to make sure long term habitability of home is maintained.”

Baccala said the goal was never to remove James from her home, but to do what was necessary to remedy the situation.

“We want people to stay in their homes,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose and way we solidify neighborhoods is by keeping people in their homes, so the last thing we want to do is remove her. We are glad we came to agreement and are finally moving forward on it.”

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