Monday, March 15, 2010

State of our Alleys

What you see in the photo to the right has become a common reoccurring theme in our alleyways from South Troy to Lansingburgh. Litter and trash. What puzzles me is why would people be comfortable to live in these conditions. How could anyone accept living each day surrounded by filth?

I receive numerous reports monthly from neighborhood group members about the varying degrees of litter in their alleys, but upon seeing this alley I decided to tour the alleyways of Troy. What I found was this was not an isolated incident. I spoke with neighbors and asked them why this happens and how long has it been happening. I was given a number of answers as to why it happens, but there were several that were reoccurring. Residents are putting there garbage out in the alleyways everyday of the week not just 24 hrs prior to pickup, which alone is against city ordinance, but they are doing so without the benefit of a trash can. This leaves the full bags of waste vulnerable to animals and humans who are in search of a "prize." After they have finished their search for the "prize" they leave the raw waste strewn about for all their neighbors to contend with. Now litter is one thing, but raw waste/garbage is another. It attracts certain vermin that, in a residential setting, is highly undesirable (rats, skunks, raccoons, rats, skunks, and did I mention rats?). The second common theme I heard was that the majority of those who wish to detract from the communities quality-of-life and break the law are tenement dwellers, transients that inhabit buildings that are owned by absentee landlords and who have zero care for the community they have become a member of. The landlords are either unaware of the situation or they just don't care. Many of the long-term residents of our neighborhoods have never seen the property owners. All that they do see is the results of their lack of care and management.

How do we deal with this... Hold the landlords accountable. It would make no sense trying to reach out to the individuals who are creating the mess to begin with because for the most part these are individuals who have never been held accountable in their lives and they're sure not going to start now. Personally, I think the city has been very successful with the nuisance abatement program, could this program be expanded to include this and other code violations? Fines only go so far and they really don't "hurt" the property owner, they just pass it along to the renter. Expanding the current abatement program so that the city now has the mechanism and authority in place to shut-down a house that continues to negatively impact society maybe the answer showing everyone that Troy is not the place for deadbeat property owners and tenants.

In my opinion this is not an issue with a lack of code enforcement or ineffective DPW. They do their jobs, they cleaned the alley shown in the photo and many others in a timely manner and cited those they could for code violations, but this cycle will continue until a resolution is formulated. For the mean time if you know of or see violators turn them in because if you don't your telling them its OK to deface your neighborhood and constrict your quality-of-life.

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