Reacting to a wave of complaints from neighbors and others, the Albany City Council voted Wednesday to have the city clean up the lot at 610 Sherman St. S.E. as a danger to public health.
There had been a history of police calls to the property and code violations, and on Jan. 27 the city manager had the small house on the property torn down as a dangerous building as allowed by the municipal code.
But taking down the house has not ended problems there, a series of speakers told Wednesday’s virtual online meeting of the council. People have moved on to the vacant lot and set up housekeeping there in makeshift shelters. There have been many more police and fire department responses to the address, the council was told.
I would report more specifics, but my internet connection prevented from from hearing all but a few bits and pieces. The gist was that conditions at the site were dangerous to the health of people camping there and the neighborhood around them.
The council authorized City Manager Peter Troedsson to declare the lot a public health hazard and clean it up.
The city had sued the owner, David Furry, and others last year over the conditions at the place and asked the court to bar the defendants from occupying the property.
Legal Aid lawyers filed an answer to the suit, disputing some of its allegations, and asking it to be dismissed.
The case was delayed by the coronavirus-caused slowdown in the state courts. On Monday, though, the court set a hearing on the motion to dismiss for Oct. 8.
Until the court case is decided, the city apparently lacks the authority to keep people off the property. So if the site is cleaned up as the council wants, what’s to keep them from coming back? (hh)