Gregg Humphrey has been busy “cleaning up” the village.
As Village of Baldwinsville Code Enforcement Officer, Humphrey can be seen driving all around the village checking out nuisance properties and investigating residents’ concerns.
The most notorious eyesore in Baldwinsville is Tri County Mall, a property that many residents are concerned about. It also equates to a financial burden on residents when considering time spent by the local police department following up on trespassing and vandalism calls.
“The police department gets the majority of the calls regarding the [Tri County Mall] property and this is what concerns me. There are juveniles vandalizing the property and using the property to hang out. No one should be hanging out here,” Humphrey said.
After talking with Humphrey, village officials took action on the property in April requiring the owners to secure the former mall and clean up the area. A new fence was installed to keep out trespassers, but as of last week, the fence had been breached in areas.
“It’s an area that has been difficult to secure,” said Mayor Joseph Saraceni.
The property also poses another issue – blight.
“We see and hear about this in regard to the housing crisis and how vacant and foreclosed properties are causing neighboring property values to suffer. We have received several calls regarding these conditions and the future development of this property,” Humphrey said.
While Tri County is the most infamous, it isn’t the only eyesore in the village. Properties like the old Yorker’s Market on Syracuse Street, which is crumbling into Crooked Brook, and several homes at the end of Lock Street, which have been condemned, are also being addressed. This is made possible through Section 28-A of the village code. Titled Unsafe Structures, Section 28-A allows the village to address properties where safety is an issue, whether structural or affecting the welfare of residents.
“[Section 28-A] allows the village to give the property owner a final chance to rectify an issue that exists and, if not, it allows the village to move forward and by an order of the state supreme court, to have the unsafe condition remedied and costs incurred by the village, which can then be assessed against the property,” said Humphrey.
Most recently, the village used Section 28-A to erect a fence around a dilapidated garage in the village. “We had received reports of children playing in and around the structure and due to its unsafe condition and considering the safety of children an emergency, we moved quickly to eliminate access to the structure. We also notified the owner of the property and ordered its removal,” he said. “We are trying, like so many municipalities, to remove the unsafe, dilapidated structures that only help to bring property values and morale down. We want our residents to have a thriving, confident village to call home.”
Baldwinsville isn’t the only municipality enforcing municipal codes. Van Buren’s Code Enforcement Officer David Pringle has been just as busy cleaning up the town.
Most recently, town officials approved the demolition of Van Buren properties at 6472 Bennetts Corners Road (cost of $14,800) and 1764 Warners Road (cost of $11,500).
“There are numerous deficiencies with each building … the structures are not habitable,” said Supervisor Claude Sykes. “It should be noted that the taxes have not been paid since 2007 and every notice issued by codes officer has been ignored. It may be possible that these properties have been abandoned.”
The cost of demolition and all appropriately related charges were placed against each property on their 2013 tax bills.
The increased focus on property cleanup may be due to a new law in which municipalities can streamline the once cumbersome route to addressing dangerous and nuisance properties. Rather than going through the state, ticketed land owners can come before the municipality to plead their case as to why properties should not be torn down. If it is decided the municipality should proceed with the demolition, there is no expense to the taxpayer as the county makes the municipality whole on demolition expenses.
The town has also notified five properties violating the property maintenance law within the past few months. If the owners don’t clean up their properties, the town will then add cleanup costs to their respective county tax bills.
When asked about Tri County Mall, which is within town limits, Sykes said, “The area is an eyesore and is not becoming of the village. It may even be reducing property values in the immediate area. I have several people each month question me on the status of this property and more often than not they comment it needs to be cleaned up. This cleanup could also prove to make the site more marketable.”