May 20, 2014

Hope Springs

Back in January, I did a post about the empty house next door to us, and how the neighbors had moved out and the Greater Syracuse Land Bank had assumed control over the property. The point of that post was that any of us can make a difference, whether it's by doing something ourselves (picking up trash, shoveling snow, or otherwise lending a hand to someone), or by picking up the phone and asking someone else to help out when they can.  

Today, I'm again happy and excited by what's going on with the Land Bank, Syracuse's Home Headquarters, and the property manager for the house next door. First the happy: every time I mow the lawn (something My Sweet Baboo doesn't like to do and I enjoy doing), I mow the front lawn of the Land Bank house (let's call it the LBH). Why?  Because up to this point, no one else has been doing it, it doesn't take all that long, and because my neighborhood looks better if the lawn is mowed.  

The back yard, on the other hand, is a completely different story.  The prior neighbors had issues with keeping it mowed, as I noted in the earlier post. I've been advised that I was not, under any circumstances, to ruin our lawnmower trying to take care of it. The lawn was well past knee high, and way before the 4th of July.  Frustration got the better of me, and I called the property manager yesterday and left a message. Today Ray called me back, and when I mentioned that the lawn hadn't been taken care of, he was a bit taken aback, because he had a lawn care company on the books to handle all of his properties. Some how this one got missed.

Until today.  Because when I spoke with Ray, he said he'd get right on it and have it taken care of either today or tomorrow.  And I've gotta tell you, I was thrilled when the mowers showed up.  Yep - that's the kind of thing that makes me happy.

Now, on the excited part:  Ray said he was stopping by the LBH today, and if I happened to see him there to stop by.  As luck would have it, I was working at home, and so I did just that - I popped over to introduce myself, and see if I could find out anything more about what was happening.  Remember, back in January the Land Bank was lining up folks to take a look at the work that needed to be done and would be making a determination on whether they'd tackle some of the work or if they'd put it up for sale and have whoever bought the house do the work.

Well, seems a decision has been made.  The house it going to get repaired first -- windows, siding, roof, mechanicals -- all of the big expensive things that might otherwise make it prohibitive for someone to purchase. And the best part is, according to the gentleman drawing up the list today, hopefully they'll be able to put it up for sale at or close to market value.

Which is a HUGE thing for us. Another Land Bank house down the road a bit just sold for less than $13,000 -- admittedly a smaller house, but one that also seems to need much less work. Needless to say, that's not a good thing for property values in the neighborhood, where a house two doors south of us sold for $112,000 last year, and a house a couple doors north of the LBH was purchased for $127,000 two years ago. Those values we like, but something in the teens or twenties or even twice that, not so much.

Happy and excited today, I sure am. Selfishly for us, I admit, but also for the neighborhood as a whole. We've been waiting patiently for things to happen with this house, going back even before the fall of 2008 when the last owners purchased it.

We'll keep plugging away on our house, painting the trim and staining the fence and the garage, the year-over-year maintenance that never ends, and we'll look forward to work starting soon on the LBH next door.

Because, like this lonely yellow tulip -- the only thing spared by the lawn crew today -- hope springs in The Valley.