The crumbling Anderson store at Edgewood and South Main was one local
landmark that started discussion for Trenton’s eyesore ordinance.
Now, as deadlines for cleanup near, it is getting a facelift.
By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
observer driving around town may see signs of change for the better as a result
of the eyesore ordinance the Trenton City Commission passed in early 2012. But Trenton Mayor Anthony Emanuel, for whom
the ordinance is a pet project, is less optimistic. He says he sees more
noncompliance than compliance as he monitors the 30-odd structures on his
eyesore list. “We’re moving,” he said during a break at the city commission’s
Aug. 12 meeting. “I don’t know how fast
we’re going but we’re moving.”
out last year in three rounds to owners of houses and commercial structures
that neighbors had identified as neglected, unwholesome, unaesthetic or
dangerous to health or safety. The letters spelled out a required course of
action – clean it up or knock it down – and an alternative appeals process, and
they set time limits by which owners were to have taken action. The grace period
for the first round of those letters is due to expire the third week of
September, said Emanuel.
“I do know
after we sent the letters out, there has been an increase in activity at some
of the sites,” said Emanuel. “People have gone in and begun cleaning up in
Edgewood and even down in Mountain View. So it’s had an effect.”
But not he
added unsmiling, as big an effect as needed. “We’re not done by any means,”
said the mayor. “We’re going to wind up in court with some of them.”
made it his business to keep up with the cleanup himself as that court date
approaches. “I make a weekly tour of all the properties, and I also take a
photograph of each property as I make that tour,” he said. “We’re just building
up a file on each property so when we go to court we’re prepared to present our
landlords are a big part of the problem, said Emanuel. “In a lot of cases,
you’re dealing with absentee owners,” he said. “And since the asset has been
destroyed, more or less – they can’t rent the house – they unfortunately have
taken pretty much a hands-off approach to it. But we cannot allow their
inattention to their responsibilities to have a negative effect on the
enjoyment of the property owners in the value of their home.”
the process has been prolonged as the city went through a process of
determining in each case whether a house or commercial building could or could
not be economically repaired. “That took a little time,” he said. And that also
accounted for the three separate mailing dates for the letters.
But the clock
is now ticking down, said Emanuel. “We’re going to be through with this initial
phase by the end of the year,” he said. “We’re going to go into the new year
either demolishing property that’s beyond economic repair or the homeowner’s
going to be in there making improvements.”
gloomy outlook is no doubt justified by the number of unchangingly ugly houses
he visits each week on his “tour of wrecks.”
Sentinel had asked the question in the first place because of highly visible
signs of cheerful industry at one of the first structures mentioned when
Trenton began considering the eyesore ordinance: the old Anderson store at the
corner of Edgewood and South Main.
A big blue tarp
has appeared over the roof there, an industrial-strength Dumpster for
construction debris has sprung up out front, and a workman has been seen
applying plaster to the walls.
Or stucco, the
workman clarified when the Sentinel stopped by Sunday to inquire. Stucco, said
Alabama contractor Norman Smith, has at least a 20-year lifespan and adds a lot
of character to an old building.
Smith said he
was working on the old store for its new owner, Rex Graham. Graham, who owns
several other buildings around the county, has spoken of opening an antique
business in the Edgewood store when it was finished, said Smith. “But it’s none
of my business,” he added.
And none, he
did not have to add, of the newspapers. But a little thing like that has never
bothered the Sentinel, and the Sentinel further inquired when the renovation
would be completed.
Smith had no
idea but pointed out there was still an overwhelming amount of work to be done.