Thursday, September 28, 2006

What happens when you play Pass the Buck

You know what sucks? When the neighborhood kids can't walk to school (or even to their bus stop) on the sidewalk, because the sidewalk is completely covered in overgrowth from the vacant lot it sits in front of. Instead, they have to walk IN THE STREET (even the ditch and roadside are overgrown with vegetation) on what can be a very busy street, with plenty of 18-wheelers and wanna-be-streetracers driving by.

You know what else sucks? That this vacant lot is owned by a church (that's right, an organization which is supposed to be in service of the needs of the people), which won't send anyone down to clean up the land, nor will they sell the land at a reasonable price (which is stupid, since they owe more than $ 19,000 in county backtaxes on property that is valued at $27,000), nor will they provide a telephone number for anyone to reach them about either land purchase or 9-foot-tall grass.
You know what sucks worse? The city helpline says that the owners are technically responsible for the yard, and the ditch in front of the sidewalk, but not necessarily the sidewalk. I read the city codes, which say the city is responsible for the sidewalk (or rather, "structures as required for the infrastructure of the city"). But the city won't mow around the sidewalk. And they won't make the owners of a vacant lot responsible for the sidewalk, because there's no one living on the land. And while in theory, they are "contacting the property owners," the reality is that after two years of complaints from nearby residents, the property owners are still either not being reached at all or intentionally not responding. So, basically, nobody is responsible for the sidewalk.

Know what sucks even more than that? That said vacant lot is so large (it's actually 3 lots together, dominating an entire corner of the block) and the trees and brush are so dense that theives, rapists, drug-users, and murderers can feel very safe hanging out in there without getting caught, since 1) they know they won't be seen, and 2) there are not enough cops patroling the already crime-happy neighborhood. (I won't even get into the rise in the poisonous Copperhead Snake population.)

Know what sucks most of all? When that vacant area is around the corner from your child's school, AND only two lots down from your own home, AND directly across the street from your elderly grandparents.

We've got our pistol and shotgun ready for whatever crackhead wanders out of the little forest and onto our property. But that's not enough to protect the first-graders trying to walk to school in the morning.

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