SHAMOKIN — On Wednesday morning, the City of Shamokin’s code enforcement officers were joined by council members in conducting a thorough code sweep of the city’s Fifth Ward.
The goal was to check for unsightly clutter on front porches and sidewalks, tall grass and weeds, loose trash and bags of garbage, and structural issues which pose an imminent danger to the public.
The first major problem was identified at the adjoining properties of 212 and 214 S. Shamokin St. At 212, a large amount of clutter was collecting on both the front and back porches, while at the vacant 214, structural problems were noted, in addition to a large wood pile in the backyard of the property.
A short distance up the street and across the bridge, citations were issued to two property owners. The first at 245 S. Shamokin St. for tall grass and the second at 301 S. Rock St. for numerous violations.
“This is something we started about two years ago,” said Director of Public Works and Councilman Charlie Verano. “What we’re looking to do here is simply identify the problem areas, issue warnings, citations and write those addresses down. We don’t want these properties to fall into a state of disrepair and have to be torn down at an additional cost to taxpayers.”
Verano also said that the city is willing to talk and work with any homeowners who are in need of help but are unable to perform tasks on their own, such as the elderly and physically handicapped.
“In some cases these people may have a physical handicap which prohibits them from seeing everything outside and may be unaware of certain issues that may be developing,” he added.
Assistant code enforcement officer Bruce Rogers also spoke of some of the warning signs of trouble.
“We look for warning signs such as mail piling up and overflowing their mailboxes or accumulating porch clutter,” he pointed out.
Extreme clutter at several adjoining properties located at 444 S. Shamokin St. prompted Verano to openly express his frustration.
“This is intolerable right here. There’s trash laying on the porches, a number of camping chairs, strollers, children’s bicycles and toys cluttering up a driveway. That’s a recipe for disaster right there,” he exclaimed.
The group then moved on to South Pearl and Vine Streets for the next portion of their sweep. Along the way, they expressed appreciation toward all those residents and property owners who keep up and maintain their properties.
As code enforcement officer Rick Bozza knocked on the door of a home at 308 S. Pearl St. the door began to slowly open but quickly closed when they saw Bozza and the others.
“That’s what a lot of people do when they see us coming. Instead of talking with us to resolve a code issue, they shut the door in our face,” said Bozza.
Rogers replied, “Well they just shut the door on a warning and now they’ll be getting a citation instead.”
On the sidewalk at 251 S. Vine St., two old furnaces were blocking the sidewalk directly in front of the property. A short distance away, a few doors down at 243 S. Vine St. a large number of items, including tires and children’s toys were accumulating on the front porch and blocking a large portion of the sidewalk.
“How’d you like to have my jobs — code enforcement and fire chief?” asked Rogers.
Following a warning, citations for code violators are as follows: first offense — $25, second offense — $50, third offense — $100.
Bozza and Rogers indicated that they typically give code violators several days to a week to comply.
Verano stressed that the code sweeps are all about cleaning up the community and not a money-making scheme.
“This is all about compliance and avoiding bigger problems down the road,” he stated.
At 10:30 a.m. as the team walked down Franklin Street they smelled what they believed was someone burning trash nearby but were unable to locate the source.
A short distance down the street, a resident of 43 S. Franklin St. who asked not to be identified, expressed his concerns over blighted neighboring properties located at 37-39 S. Franklin St.
“The roof is starting to collapse back there, along with heavy brush and animals running around,” he said.
At 26 S. Franklin St., a number of large black trash bags were laying on the front porch, which also had no railing. As Bozza knocked on the door, the resident came out and asked what was going on. Verano told him to shut the door. He responded angrily by saying he wouldn’t and told everyone to leave immediately, cursing and threatening them verbally.
A minivan with a flat tire parked outside of 8 S. Franklin St. had a least five tickets laying on its windshield, along with a police tow tag.