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Neighbors, councilwoman highlight dangerous conditions following fire

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Neighbors who live near the old Armstrong High School in Richmond said the city is applying a double-standard to their neighborhood. They said if they let their property go the same way the city has let the area around the empty school fall into disrepair, they'd have received notices from City Hall, maybe even a fine.

Some told CBS 6 the area is so overgrown with tall grass and blight, it's become an invitation for crime.

"We've got the vagrancies, the prostitutes, the drug addicts. They're always over here trying to get up in here." said neighbor Johni Boss. Boss and other neighbors said the city used to maintain the field across the street from Armstrong, but that the maintenance has stopped.

Monday, someone set fire to the old high school. Richmond police are investigating the arson.

Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell said she wanted to make sure the city stepped in to improve conditions in the entire neighborhood.

"We need tax revenue? Go after the landlord. Go after the owner of this property. Fine him. Do whatever it takes. Get the money that we need," said Trammell, who also chairs the city's public safety commission.

Trammell said the disrepair not only breeds crime, but it's also a health safety issue.

"What about the rats, what about the possums, what about the children over there playing? Those rats and possums could attack them, have rabies, whatever," Trammell said.

City of Richmond spokesman Mike Wallace emailed a statement to CBS 6 that read:

“The city is presently assessing the damage caused by last night’s fire. The old Armstrong High School property and the surrounding Nine Mile Road corridor have all been under review for potential revitalization and development. Immediate plans for the structure have not been determined at this time, however the city is currently seeking proposals to focus on strategic and underinvested assets in the area, to include Creighton Court and the old Armstrong High School property.”