87-year-old Lawrence Jacobsen has lived on Bennington Road near 72nd Street since 1955. He drives past the sprawling property that used to be the North Omaha Radar Base six days a week. He is forced to look at rows of broken down, vacant buildings. He said, "They're a danger. You never know who might get in there in the evening, at night, kids or vagrants."
Jacobsen showed us around the perimeter and urged us to find out who's responsible for the property and hold them accountable for the condition. It was previously operated by the U.S Air Force, later the Federal Aviation Administration, and at some point the Army Corps of Engineers. The FAA still operates one so-called radar dome. But the land and buildings are a much different story.
Our search lead us to the Construction Laborers Buildings Corporation. It merely has a board of trustees, made up of four people. Brad Miller is the Secretary of the CLBC. He says the Corporation purchased the northern grounds of the old radar station in the early 2000's with some big ideas. He said, "There were high hopes it would turn into some kind of training center, multi-craft training center or job corps. "
But that never really materialized. Now more than a decade later, it rents out one building to a dog training business, another to an archery club. Miller says he has heard the residents complaints about the dilapidated buildings that look like run down barracks. He revealed the company is trying to sell the property and might have an interested buyer. Miller noted, "Presently we are trying to sell the property to somebody who believes they can do something with those buildings. "
In the meantime, residents like Lawrence Jacobsen stated, "They served their purpose and its time to get them cleaned up. "
We contacted the City of Omaha. The top building inspector says he has long been aware of the problem and the issue. In fact, the city has issued a demolition order for the beat up buildings but at this point the cost is too steep for the city to do the work and there are more dangerous structures elsewhere, that must come down first.