Problem Springfield property covered with junk will be cleaned

After months of complaints to local officials, a problem property in one Springfield neighborhood may finally be close to getting the cleanup neighbors have been wanting.

People who live around 1803 Prospect St. call the property a junkyard in the middle of their neighborhood.

“It’s been going on for months,” said Doug McConehea, who lives across the street. He wakes up to a view of trash piles and old car parts every single morning.

“We’ve been having to pick up trash and buckets and everything that comes over here,” he said.

McConehea isn’t alone in his feelings. His neighbor, David Toadvine, said the property is a big headache.

The vacant house is surrounded on all sides with trash and junk, and Toadvine said the piles just seem to get bigger.

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“It knocks the value of your home down very bad. The homes ain’t that great around here anyway,” he said.

Toadvine said he and many of his neighbors have made complaints to several agencies, but he hasn’t seen much progress.

“Everybody is complaining, but nothing gets done,” Toadvine said.

The City of Springfield’s Code Enforcement Department has had the property on their radar for several months now.

“When this all first started we received a number of complaints almost daily,” said Stephen Thompson, code enforcement administrator.

Thompson said the tenant who was living in that house was evicted in December. They were operating an auto business out of their home, which is a violation against zoning codes.

But even when the tenant left, the mess remained.

“A lot of the old car parts were left on site and since then it’s become an even worse dumping ground,” Thompson said. “It’s typical if people realize a home is vacant, it quickly becomes a site for illegal dumping.”

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Thompson said the responsibility of cleaning up the property falls on the landlord or owner — but in certain cases like the Prospect Street site, the city will step in and take care of the clean up, which the owner will be billed for later.

Thompson said doing that involves a process that can be time consuming and frustrating.

“Everyone wants it cleaned up tomorrow, and we do as well but if we want to recover those costs that’s ultimately the taxpayer’s money — there is a legal process we have to follow,” Thompson said.

He said the city put the clean up project out to bid in December after the tenant was evicted. Putting a project out to bid means that contractors give the city their best price to get rid of the junk.

Since that time, the amount of garbage on the property had increased. The city then had to rebid the project because the contractors’ prices could change due to an increase amount of trash to clean up.

But Thompson said the city is close to the end of that process. The project is out to bid to contractors right now, but those bids were due back this week and the actual clean up should follow shortly.

“Hopefully within the next couple weeks, that site will be cleaned,” Thompson said.

That news was a sigh of relief to neighbors like McConehea or Toadvine, who said the property ruins the look of the whole neighborhood.

Thompson estimated the cost of clean up to be around $4,000.

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