Wednesday, June 01, 2011

WOW/Scovill Homes Tour

Until you get out and walk through a neighborhood, you can't really see what the problems are. Today, thanks to the persistence and determination of Patricia Sockwell, several key city leaders walked our streets as a follow-up to the community meeting held at the WOW/NRZ Community Center last month.

In attendance today were Mayor Jarjura, Board of Education Commissioner Neil O'Leary, Bryan Baker, President of the Board of Aldermen Paul Pernerewski, Alderman Ryan Mulcahy, Alderman Larry DePillo, Jimmie Griffin, Richard Wood, Nelson Simoes (Health Department), Deputy Chief Vernon Riddick, Michael Gilmore, Officer Andrew Abney and Lt. Scott Stevenson. As Pat Sockwell pointed out later, she and I were the only women present.

Staring in disgust at the remaining dilapidated building on the corner of Walnut and
Wood Streets. Now that he's seen it, Mayor Jarjura agrees it needs to be torn down.

We started at the WOW center, walked down Walnut to Wood Street, up Wood to Oak Street, down Ives Street, then went down the length of the common area behind Ives Street (lots of dumping, in one case many years worth of dumping), back across Carpmill and Young Streets, pausing to talk to residents at the intersection of Young and Rose Streets, continuing on to Webb Street, pausing to look down Vermont Street (arguably the worst street in the neighborhood), then back up Walnut Street.

Wood Street, in front of abandoned triple-deckers.

Several triple-deckers on Wood Street went up for auction by the city recently. Minimum starting bid of $3,000. No bidders. Given the state of the economy and the condition of the buildings, this is not too surprising.

A beautiful old building that's getting ready to fall down.

I think you get the idea of how bad it is (and how little they realized it before now) from some of the expressions on their faces.

Lots of discussion of the problem, lots of discussion of the need to find a solution.

Sockwell led the group through some of the most run-down, trashed-out areas. "Watch your step" was repeated many times.

There are 110 Scovill homes. I need to do an inventory to find out how many are abandoned.

During the tour, talking with Nelson Simoes, I learned an important little detail about the fight against blight and litter: the city can't set foot on private property in order to see if there is blight. In other words, if the property next to mine has a yard full of trash and overgrown weeds, and I complain about it, all the property owner has to do is push the garbage back to where it can't be seen from the street. I can still see it, since it's up against my fence, but the Health Department can't--unless, of course, I invite them into my yard to see the trash (which I have now done).

So at the end of the day, what do we have? Certainly there is now better awareness of just how bad it really is here, which of course comes with many good intentions to find solutions. Some specific actions have been promised: cleaning up overgrown weeds and falling trees behind the rowhouses on Ives Street, getting the abandoned building on the corner of Walnut and Wood Streets torn down, going after the owners of certain trash-filled properties. We'll be holding another community meeting later this summer to assess where we are and what's been accomplished.

1 comment:

Bryan P. Baker said...

Great post Raechel. You and Pat are going to be a force for improvement in your neighborhood. Keep up the good work!