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Easton Begins Block-by-Block Inspections

Mayor's tour of Easton neighborhood showcases "oases" along with blight.

They were lovely homes: freshly-painted, well preserved, the type of places that would fit in a nice neighborhood in any city.

Just a few houses down, you'd find graffiti, garbage, and kids playing in the yard of a home the city had labeled unfit for occupancy.

This was the 600 block of Ferry Street, which the city showcased Thursday, warts and all, as part of Easton's program.

For about 90 minutes Thursday afternoon, city workers walked the 600 block of Northampton Street and its surrounding neighborhoods -- Ferry, Pine, Locust streets, and Walnut Avenue.

Code enforcement officers inspected buildings, police looked for gang graffiti and drug activity. There was even a health inspector checking out the food service businesses along Northampton.

While this was going on, Mayor Sal Panto led reporters and a handful of residents, showing both properties the neighborhood could be proud of and areas that needed -- sometimes significant -- improvement.

"This owner obviously can't maintain his property. He shouldn't own it," Panto said, standing at a weed-infested yard along Walnut Avenue.

In the alley behind the 600 block of Ferry Street, you could find even worse blight: backyards filled with garbage, properties that had begun to decay. 

In one of the yards, two small children gaped at the reporter and resident that had come to look around. A light burned inside the house the yard was attached to; the address was 615 Ferry St., and the city had a fixed an "occupancy forbidden" sign on its door last year. Nevertheless, there were signs people were still living there.

At the other end of the block, resident Deare Melendez said she feels like there's a new resurgance in the neighborhood, where homes are being refurbished.

There's still problems, she said. 

"I feel like a lot of landlords don't care what their homes look like," she said.

There are larger issues as well, like drug dealers and sex workers operating in the alley. Rhodes Yepsen, a neighbor of Melendez, said about half the traffic that moves through the alley comes from drugs and prostitution. He'd like to see the alley to just residents and first responders.

Another neighbor, Lydia Labat, said she'd ultimately like to see the alleys beautified; she noted that department stores often have excess bulbs; why not plant flowers?

"There's curb appeal, but where's the alley appeal?" Labat asked. "But the fundamentals have to come first. That's just the icing."

Those fundamentals include dealing with around the city, and turning old , marketed to young professionals. Panto showed off just that kind of home along Pine Street: hip, modern and eco-friendly, with a flashy orange porch railing and a rain water barrel around back.

An "oasis," the mayor said.

Go around the corner, and you'd find a shack-like building on South Locust Street, boarded up and smelling of mold.

"This one's been a nuisance forever," said Dennis Lieb, of the city's West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, with neighbors forced to deal with smells and rodents. 

Next to that, a small, well-maintained house, with flower pots on the window-sills.

Every block, the mayor noted, has at least one property worth saving.

Becky Bradley, Easton's director of planning, said the city plans to do an inspection each month, at various neighborhoods. 

bill frome June 07, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Election time is coming!!!
Tom Coombe June 07, 2012 at 10:00 PM
For who? The mayor's new term began earlier this year.
Tom Adams June 08, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Bill, what do you have against our mayor? You seem to be so negative even abut positive things going on in our city. Your posts are rediculous. Sure we still have areas of concern and problems but our mayor is getting it done. I think you should go and talk to him or go to a council meeting and let them know what you would do differently and maybe they will implement some of your ideas. Oh that's right, you never post idas or solutions.
bill frome June 08, 2012 at 05:50 AM
You never asked and you must not pay attention because I have offered suggestions. To get rid of the empty abandoned houses is an easy fix sell them cheap to people who will live in them. Make them sign a deal that they have to use the homes as their primary residents and that they can't sell the house for 10 years. Get HUD involved to offer low interest loans to the people who buy these houses so that they can fix them up. Also make public servants that work for easton live within Easton, that will help create a better community because workers that work where they live care more about their community and do a better job. Another thing the mayor can do is enforce the laws and city ordinances. Why have them if they won't enforce them??? Theres alot that can be done that hes not doing.
Pete. R. July 30, 2012 at 05:17 PM
This program works I live on North 8th St. We have HUD home and those own by "SLUMLORD" when people in those home move out. We call City of Easton Code EnforcementOfficer,Neil Bennett. This gentlemen has build a relationship with this neighborhood that one phone call and he's there checking on any violations that need to be address so. The home owners don't turn around and rent to those who deal drugs and turn these home and neighborhood into eyesore. I now this program will bring back the Easton of yesterday call the Code Enforcement Officer

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