Your major article in Thursday’s paper on main 2 is a tale that subtly forces us to ask some hard questions; for common sense lies between the lines like the simple adage oft forgotten: “a stitch in time saves nine.” Visually the story shows us how that neglect has consequences and procrastination reaps ugly rewards. In this case, and others like it, is the end only a lien on the property perhaps never to be paid? Let’s give ourselves a break and think about it.
The house at 1222 St. Helens Ave., now not to be called a home except to rats, poses the question: Why did it take so long for the city to act on this blight when it has been on the dirty dozen list since 2006? The answer may give us some foresight into how to vote for city council members who will take a strong stand on code enforcement that solves problems in a timely manner. That’s the rub right there — finding problem-solving individuals who can think past the letter of the law and go to the heart of it. Individuals who understand that a city is made up of people who form neighborhoods like the Edison district which along with lovely older homes close to services has its own areas of blight. We need leaders who understand the principle of neighborhoods working together and how to encourage home-keeping before the law is called in. Let’s find people with ears to early complaints of drug activity nearby and how to wipe it out before an ambulance carries away an overdoser; people who can find a way to turn that key into earlier law enforcement. Perhaps a code that allows immediate house searches in such cases and rules that allow earlier investigations.
What is a neighborhood anyway? Perhaps that is where the neglect lies. When we observe our neighbor’s obvious problems can we find a kindly way to step in, warn them of dangers and suggest solutions? Can we not adjure that privacy has its victims as well as its rights? Then there is that other old adage: “If there is a will, there is a way.”
In writing this I realize there is a lot of good that does go on and law enforcement requires more hands and more money, or perhaps even trained volunteers to multiply their efforts. Ask city council candidates how they might solve the problem of urban blight in creative ways. Surely we can all do better than 1222 St. Helens Ave.