When the economy tanked in late 2007, one of its victims was the house across the street from us. The couple who had lived there when we moved into our home in 2000 had kept the place in pristine condition. Then they moved north and gave the house to their son. I don’t know what the deal was with him, but he walked away from the house in early 2008.
Over the years since then, the house has gone through periods where squatters moved in every other week. Then there were people living there who may have been arms dealers – or so a visit from an ATF agent implied. Then there were a couple of guys who sat in their garages all day with their laptops, stealing internet service from the people around them.
For several years now, the place has been plastered with notices of foreclosure, warnings from the city, the bank, and whoever else has a financial interest in the place. The house has fallen into complete ruin. The grass grows knee-high before someone from the city comes around and supposedly mows it, windows are broken, the exterior is covered in mold and dirt, the roof is practically black, and the driveway and sidewalk are so filthy you know that if you walk on them, you’ll catch some terrible disease.
Whenever the grass gets so high that it may hide snakes, rats, and primeval spiders, someone complains to the city and eventually, some lawn outfit comes out and mows. Sort of. A rush job, you can tell. It looks like a kid went after the grass with a machete. And then, invariably, the complainers get a compliance notice from the city – which still calls itself a village – about how their roofs or sidewalks or driveways need cleaning. Or how the RV in their back yard can’t be there. Or how their lawn needs to be cut. The city’s Big Brothers don’t bother taking on the bank who owns this travesty. Instead, they find a way to pay you back for your complaint.
Rob recently complained about how high the grass was, how unsightly the place was. The lawn was sort of mowed about a week later and a week after that, we received a compliance letter. It infuriated me. First of all, it’s the middle of rainy season, when everything gets dirty. Second, this is an obvious slap on the wrist for our complaint. We’re a small neighborhood of about 30 homes and this sucker is just so ugly, so ruined, that if we decided to sell our house, prospective buyers would be in hysterics. So I sent the Big Brother compliance dude at the Wellington city government an email:
Dear Mr. Golding,
We recently received a courtesy code enforcement letter from your office. We are happy to comply. However, the house across the street from us, 2779 Yarmouth Drive, has been a ruined eyesore for the last five or six years.
The grass is usually not mowed until it becomes intolerable and someone complains. There’s a broken window at the side of the house, the front of the place is plastered with notices, the exterior of the house is filthy, and the mailbox is broken and lying in pieces. The state of the house lowers the property values for the neighborhood. The last time the grass was mowed, it was done haphazardly and looked like something an eight-year-old had done with a pair of scissors. The cut grass simply remained in the front yard and dried up to the consistency of old hay. The roof and the driveway are practically black with dirt.
Whenever we or others in the neighborhood have called attention to the plight of the house, we have received a compliance note. We would appreciate it if something could be done about this place. There are people on this street who would eventually like to sell their homes, but the first thing any prospective buyer sees when they turn onto this part of Yarmouth is the sad, pathetic state of 2779. If it’s bank-owned, can’t the bank we held accountable for the appearance?
Not surprisingly, there’s been no response from Mr. Golding. Today, we parked our cars in that filthy driveway when a couple of young men came to clean our driveway, sidewalk, roof. As I got out of my car, the biggest spider I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen some BIG ones – scampered out of the grass, headed for my foot. I looked out across the rapidly growing and high grass prairie and though, OMG, what’s next? A rat the size of my car? An anaconda? And what’s living INSIDE that place?
Two days after I wrote to Mr. Golding, a lawn service came out and mowed the grass. Coincidence? And oh, the window got fixed. But nothing else has been done to the place.
There’s a paragraph in that compliance letter about how the village of Wellington, the international winter home of the equestrian world, prides itself on its appearance. Seriously? So how about tearing down this sad, pathetic health hazard and turning it into a neighborhood garden? Or, hey, how about a dog park?