We haven’t had such a reaction to a story in a long time.
My column about some owners who have let their properties become overgrown, littered with rusty junk cars and appliances and in serious disrepair and a page of anonymous photographs of some properties struck a nerve.
In the past several issues the Reporter has printed multiple letters on the Opinion page condemning and praising the column and photos. We’ve also received many phone calls, the vast majority of them positive.
I wasn’t intending to stir up controversy. My intention was to write about what many, many people have told me – that they want property owners to be held more accountable and they want their town to project a positive image to visitors. One of the biggest industries is, after all, tourism.
My other hope was that something positive would come out of discussing a hot-button issue. And something has. Some of the properties I photographed have been cleaned up. Downed trees are getting chopped, overgrown grass and weeds mowed, broken windows fixed and rotting doors replaced.
We decided to run an online poll to gauge what else people think should be done. So we asked, “What do you think is a good way to clean up properties in Glen Rose?”
The possible solutions and the responses to the question were as follows, as of Tuesday morning:
* Have the city issue more citations – 27 percent
* Leave it to churches and nonprofits to help – 0 percent
* Hold an annual clean-up day or weekend – 47 percent
* Ignore them; it’s nobody’s business but the owner’s – 27 percent
At one point in the voting, the “hold an annual clean-up day” received 50 percent. The “it’s nobody’s business but the owner’s” response had 33 percent of the vote last week.
And certainly, that’s the attitude of many folks who believe their property rights are sacrosanct and that the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.
Stronger code enforcement also hit 33 percent of the vote last week. But the legal procedures the city has to follow to enforce codes and condemn properties is lengthy. Some violators have been thumbing their noses at the city for years, ignoring multiple violations.
What do you think is a good solution? We’ll keep the poll up through the end of the week, so if you’d like to vote, go to www.yourglenrosetx.com. Perhaps our elected city officials and decision-makers at Town Hall will take note.
Something else positive seems to be percolating among people discussing this issue. First, they ARE discussing it and trying to figure out ways to beautify Glen Rose and yet preserve property rights and give some wiggle room for those, such as the elderly, who have trouble keeping up their yards and getting rid of junk. They shouldn’t be penalized, they should be assisted.
One older woman who called the newspaper office said she needed help cleaning up her yard. But she “didn’t want to take charity.” No doubt others feel this way, too.
Some members of the Glen Rose City Council favor a citywide clean-up day and that seems to be a popular choice, too, judging from comments posted on the Reporter’s Facebook page. I heard there have been efforts like this in the past. It would be a good way to pull together the community for a common goal.
Hopefully, the city’s waste management provider, IESI, would be willing to waive fees for one day to pick up refuse and assorted junk.
I would be there pitching in and I know lots of others would, too. We can all use a hand sometimes – and we can give one.