hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

March 21, 2013

Neighbors tired of eyesores can make a difference

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Here’s your chance.

Ever seen a house with paint peeling so badly that it appears to have been neglected for years? Maybe the building has some broken windows and a yard with knee-high grass.

It’s bad enough to catch an eyeful of such an eyesore when you drive by it. But how’d you like to live next to it?

The city is giving residents a chance to report such dilapidated properties to officials, who plan to force cleanups and even sales of such buildings to responsible owners.

That’s what happened a few months ago in the Acre neighborhood. Neighbors complained about the poor condition of a house and yard, saying it was an eyesore that dragged down the value of properties around it.

They were tired of looking at the mess as they worked to keep their own properties clean and even make improvements. Their complaints got the ear of city officials. Mayor James Fiorentini’s administration sent a code enforcement team to review the problem property.

Those city inspectors began working with the state Attorney General’s Office. Before long, a state housing court assigned a receiver to oversee the property and make improvements so it could become a market rate home. (See story, Page 1.)

Now, the job is nearly done, and the city wants to continue the work, perhaps elsewhere in the Acre and in other neighborhoods.

City officials are asking residents who see run-down property to notify the code enforcement team. Inspectors will visit the property and determine whether it is worthy of the program’s attention.

If the city and Attorney General do take action on a property, it costs Haverhill nothing. The state pays the expenses.

This is a chance for people to help improve their neighborhoods and, by extension, their own property values with a simple phone call.

People sometimes complain that even when they speak up, government does little or nothing to help them. Here’s a chance to have your voice heard — and get a response.

We encourage people to get involved in this program. It can only give them better neighborhoods to live in.