On the morning of January 20th, I was alerted to a fire at what I called the Hoarder House. I’d never witnessed a fire in real time. It was equally fascinating and disturbing (see January 31 blog post). When the burning finally stopped, the property was surrounded by barricades and crime scene tape. Eventually, a chain link fence was erected to keep passersby safely away from the crumbling mass of charred rubbish.
Months went by. Winds and rain caused the waterfall of junk to precariously shift. People started asking me why the City hadn’t torn the place down. I’m flattered they have the impression that I’m privy to the goings on around town. I actually know next to nothing, and often stifle an urge to make things up.
Due to my years-long obsession with this house and people counting on me to know stuff, I recently took precious time and energy away from watching “Judge Judy” and launched an investigation. City Manager Tabitha Miller eased the burden of this task by sending a press release dated July 9, 2018.
Apparently, the City had a heck of a time getting someone to take responsibility for clearing the property. None of the parties involved—the owner, mortgage holder or insurance company—would cooperate. In April, Nationstar (the mortgage holder) received an insurance payout of $175,000. In May, they foreclosed on the property, which made them the official owner.
So what you think Nationstar did?
- Acted like grownups, admitted their liability, and offered to immediately clean up their property that stood like a gaping wound on the edge of downtown just off Main Street.
- Acted like juvenile delinquents, stuffed the money in their pockets, and ran.
Sadly, they chose number two. The City diligently tried to contact Nationstar, but they would not return phone calls or respond to letters.
On June 8—nearly six months after the fire—the Community Development Director sent a certified letter to Nationstar informing them that they had until July 10 to start cleaning up the property. For each day of delay, they would be assessed a $1,000 fine.
The threat of $1,000 a day seemed to catch the attention of the suits at Nationstar. By July 3rd, the contractor hired for cleanup applied to the City for a permit.
A few weeks ago, black tarps were draped over the chain link fence and the demolition began. Within a couple days, the dumpsters supplied by Waste Management were filled to capacity and work paused until they could be hauled inland and emptied.
As the process unfolded, I finagled my way around the tarps to snap photos. For decades, this house stood as a shameful monument to hoarding. Within days, it was no more.
I find it hard to say goodbye.