Jun 28, 2006

Hookers, Rats, and Drugs: Life at 901 Colburn

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901 colburn (Toledo, OH) Lillian Barringer is fed up about the house at 901 Colburn.

“I almost can’t stand to be here any more,” she said. “The mice and rats from that place are bad enough, but there are people going in there to do drugs. Sometimes they set up shop and sell them right out of the house.”

Barringer said that her complaints bring no response from the city.

“I have called every city department to get something done about that place, but nothing ever happens,” she said, noting that the two-family house has been vacant for at least four years. “Why should my granddaughter have to grow up around a dangerous building like that?”

Angry residents in the vicinity of South and the Trail have been talking about taking matters into their own hands, said Barringer.

“I am afraid that somebody will decide to burn the place down to get rid of it,” she said. “I don’t want my house to go up in flames at the same time, but it wouldn’t be the first time that people solved a problem by burning down an abandoned house.”

The property is owned by an Inkster, MI man named Nelson White, and efforts to contact him were unsuccessful. Neighbor Angela Morgan said that she is not surprised.

“This person is the typical absentee landlord who invests nothing in the property and lives far away,” she said. “He doesn’t care what goes on in the place, and no one’s been out here to work on it in years. This would be a great street if it wasn’t for that house.”

Morgan said that prostitutes have been known to frequent the building, and that feral cats are in the house.

“The dog warden said that they won’t come out for cats,” she said. “It’s like a jungle on the outside of that house, and a zoo on the inside.”

On the day the ABLE Squad visited, two windows and one door were unsecured, providing easy access to intruders. Clothing, empty food and beverage containers, and a radio provided evidence of recent inhabitation by unauthorized persons.

Morgan is concerned that local children may be in danger from the property.

“There is a rope hanging from the tree in back, and we are constantly chasing away kids who want to play there,” she said. “I worry that one of those kids might hurt themselves on that tree or in the garbage that’s in the yard.”

This article is part of a regular feature I write for the Toledo Free Press called the ABLE Squad - "Abandoned Buildings Looking for Entrepreneurs."

12 comments:

Do said...

Mike - we can discuss this one further. I have a plan that might work if those neighbors are willing to exercise just a little more patience.

We will talk soon.

historymike said...

Larry Farren has more about this house.

The fates seemed to send both of us to the place within 24 hours of each other.

liberal_dem said...

Carty has a list of "the dirty dozen" on the City of Toledo Website. Maybe he'll add this house to the list:

http://www.ci.toledo.oh.us/images/Dirty%20Dozen%20List.pdf

historymike said...

Thanks for the link, LD. I heard the announcement that the mayor was going to restart this campaign.

I note that the Howard family made the list. Herbie Howard is the family patriarch with whom Carty got into the really ugly near-brawl during his second term over one of the Howard and Sons properties.

Kate said...

1. "Morgan is concerned that local children may be in danger from the property.

“There is a rope hanging from the tree in back, and we are constantly chasing away kids who want to play there,” she said. “I worry that one of those kids might hurt themselves on that tree or in the garbage that’s in the yard.”

Go over there and cut the rope down.


2. If Carty has a list of a dirty dozen he is asleep at the wheel. I can get pictures of at least 100 houses ready for the bulldozer.

Frank said...

good work, I write about it here and am sending a referral to the Administration asking for immediate action.

Do said...

As of 1:00 this afternoon the grass had been cut, the windows boarded and the rope removed from the tree behind the house.

According to the next door neighbor she had Carty and his department heads at her door this morning promising that something would be done. She finished cleaning her house and went out to take care of some errands. She returned at the same time I was getting out of the car at 1:00 and was clapping her hands and smiling. She told me that her husband won't believe the progress when he calls later.

Thanks Mike! Sometimes just kicking a stone can make the rats run. ;)

Kate said...

Wow, I am awed by the power of the blog...all hail the blog.

No kidding?

Brian1984 said...

Before we received any referral from Frank, this property was targeted for a visit on the mayor's bus tour.

Chief Navarre and I went through it. We found the floors swept and several bags of ceiling tiles where the owner or his agent had taken out a drop ceiling and bagged up the debris.

The back door is unsecure and that is not up to snuff. However, within an hour of the mayor visiting the property, a city crew was there to mow the lawn. We will be contacting the owner about securing the back door.

It was the opinion of the Chief that there may have been a fire at the rear of the duplex that caused the damage there. The front does not look that bad and the aluminum siding is intact.

Hopefully, the owner will complete his renovations. If not, he'll catch the rough side of the mayor and wish he had.

Thanks to Mike and the Free Press for bringing this to our attention.

Brian Schwartz

Do said...

We found the floors swept and several bags of ceiling tiles where the owner or his agent had taken out a drop ceiling and bagged up the debris.

According to the neighbor(s) that was done at least 2 years ago.

The front does not look that bad and the aluminum siding is intact.

The siding on the front is the only section that is intact. The photo that opens this blog clearly shows the siding is missing from the back of the house.

Hopefully, the owner will complete his renovations. If not, he'll catch the rough side of the mayor and wish he had.

The term 'hopefully' is appropriate. However, if we are waiting on this property owner to take care of this I'm sure we will all be old and gray.

As for "catching the rough side of the Mayor," I think that perhaps you should have further conversation with Tom Kroma and Judge McConnell. The Mayor is not going to be the ultimate factor here. That is, unless he has the verve to take that property via eminent domain as a threat to the health and safety of the public.

And I'm confused on this part:

Before we received any referral from Frank, this property was targeted for a visit on the mayor's bus tour.

Followed by:

Thanks to Mike and the Free Press for bringing this to our attention.

This reads, to me, like Mr. Mayor is mad at Frank and told you not to give any credit to him for this response....and that this entire issue was another one that had gotten lost in the beaurocratic shuffle downtown until negative attention was brought to light.

I suggest that with the current stock of abandoned/blighted/substandard housing in our fair city that someone 'in the know' explore a revision of the TMC regarding nuisance abatement and housing quality standards.

Further, I would hope that eventually someone will oppose Judge McConnell in an election. He's a nice man, but his lenience with absentee landlords, slumlords, and those that thumb their nose at minimum housing standards is appalling. Some of the cases in housing court have been there for YEARS with minimal ( or NO ) improvements to the subject properties.

Toledo needs to adopt a Zero Tolerance for the property owners that simply choose to thumb their noses at the idea of taking care of their property. As always there would be hardship exceptions, but the amount of homes that are generating INCOME for others that are being left in sub-standard condition would certainly be less if there were stronger enforcement of housing standards.

Kate said...

Brian - you might want to advocate to the Mayor that he keep that rough side of his tongue securely rolled up and zipped inside his mouth. He's been a bad boy our Mayor has. And there's been some concern that he may be in need of some counseling. Anger management classes come to my mind.

As for these properties, it may be a wise investment of time if someone in your office traveled through these areas by car and noted properties such as this. Or open up a hotline to report them and follow up on them.

Hooda Thunkit said...

For once, something got done, without anyone having to resort to incendiary urban renewal.

That's one. . .

And, good luck getting cooperation out of the absentee landlord.