Sunday, October 14, 2012

No Scarlet Letters Here

Abandoned house (but not the property) on South East Street

So to repeat what I wrote yesterday about the coordinated PR surge Amherst and UMass are now jointly putting forth on the their solutions to problem party houses in town, I question if either has the will to actually back up their tough talk.  And now, for your consideration, I present exhibit B:

Board of Health Problem Houses

Interesting that this "list" of dwellings the Board of Health has dealt with since the June 30 start of FY13 does not give exact addresses?

When a public health problem rises to the level of being placed on a watch list, that list becomes a public document.   And since the Board of Health is an investigatory body with state mandated powers I assume they put the exact address on their list.

So why protect them from public exposure?  Don't neighbors have a right to know about a problem house in their neighborhood (although they are usually all too familiar).  Isn't that why the state has a Sex Offender rule for public exposure of their whereabouts?

Notice the Board of Health has issued only one fine (to a house somewhere on Glendale Road) out of the 60 or so locations on the list, or under 2%.  No indication if it was for the $50 minimum or $1,000 maximum, or anywhere in between.

And it's also interesting that this fine was issued only last week.  Since this powerpoint slide is to be presented tomorrow night to the Amherst Select Board as part of the Town Manager's report on "Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods", a conspiracy theorist might think they just randomly picked one token house to fine in order to demonstrate toughness. 

At least the 9/13 basement apartment fire at Gilreath Manor on Hobart Lane shows up (but only as "Hobart Lane").  At least we now have an official admission from the town that those basement apartments were indeed illegal.  And they have given the owners an "Order To Correct"... at least.

That seems to be an apt description for the efforts the town and UMass are showing for enforcement action:  At least.


Stormin Norman said...

I have two major disagreements with this article.

1)The health department is tracking the party houses? What health risk is present from a gathering? The police department is more apt to this job.

2)Your comparison to sex offenders is a bit...radical. Can you really place partying college kids in the same level as people who are registered sex offenders? Problem houses are much of a nuisance as a large construction project in the area can be at times for neighbors.

Larry Kelley said...

No, the Health Department is not specifically tracking "party houses". This is just one general law on the books that can be used for that specific end.

Radical. Me?

I'm sure I could probably find a household or two (without children of course) who would rather live next to a registered sex offender than a unregistered party house.

Anonymous said...

I think we all know addresses that could be added to this list!

Anonymous said...

'I'm sure I could probably find a household or two (without children of course) who would rather live next to a registered sex offender than a unregistered party house."
would you?

Stormin Norman said...

So party-going college students are equivalent to those who attack and force sexual acts of violence on others...

and thus any parties are equivalent to felonies...

While a nuisance I am sure an extreme majority (in fact I am quite content betting a statistically insignificant portion would affirm with you) would think that placing college students drinking in league with sex offenders is insane.

Anonymous said...

Is Scott Nielsen hoarding at his house on South East Street?????????

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I probably should have captioned that "file photo" and mentioned that it was purchased as part of a plan to develop high-end condos that would have paid the town tons of tax money but was shot down by the likes of Carol Gray and Company.

I was actually worried somebody would call me a hypocrite because I do not give the actual address of the house, and here I'm complaining about the Board of Health not giving addresses for problem houses ... But while I'm on the subject: that house is abandoned and has been for many years.

(Which, I suppose, is a bit of a problem).

Anonymous said...

sorry but can you clarify WHY you think neighbors should have the right to know exact locations of houses with problems such as a leaky roof? how would this possibly affect someone living next door or in the same general area??

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me that you are finally starting to figure out that your photos should have something to do with your articles?