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Decatur officials 'do not have a clue,' Daily reader says

By Steve Stewart 340-2444

One Daily reader suggests that public officials go sightseeing.

"Our elected officials do not have a clue as to the state of these maturing neighborhoods in Decatur," Gail Warren wrote by e-mail in response to an online poll.

"One of the first suggestions would be to round them all up and tour these neighborhoods from the streets and the alleys."

Five out of six poll respondents answered yes when asked, "Should the city of Decatur crack down on eyesores, junk and unused vehicles on private property?"

Of 354 answering the poll, 297 (83.9 percent) voted yes and 57 voted no. The two-day poll ended Friday at

The poll was unscientific, and people could vote from anywhere.

Warren, who lives on Mark Street Southwest, said her neighborhood has at least six houses with six or more cars, trucks, boats or trailers in the front yards. Some of the backyards are cluttered with wood trash and cars, she said.

"The grass is gone, the lots rutted and bare. Sometimes vehicles are parked in the street and on the house lots, too, making it almost impossible to navigate the street."

Water from a swimming pool goes into an alley, where it breeds mosquitoes, she said.

One house "from time to time does not have utilities in service, bulldogs tied up in the backyard, the roof over the patio separated from the house and hanging down, junk and furnishings piled up on the carport with the cars parked on the grass, which is usually in need of mowing during the spring and summer months."

Sewage runs down an alley, she said, and some residents don't cut the alley or trim trees and bushes along fences.

"I have lived on this street for five years and made complaints several times with no results," she said.

"These yards are rodent grounds and fire hazards. One front yard has a cabin cruiser (many years past its prime) that has not been moved in the five years I have lived on this street."

She expects the current cleanup effort to be short-lived, not worth the trouble and money for many people.

Another reader, Rick Wade of Southwest Decatur, said he favors "proper beautification" and is glad to see the local focus on it.

"However, if the government of Decatur is really serious about an attractive city, why doesn't it lead by example and clean up its own properties in a timely manner?" he asked.

He suggested that The Daily run photos of "commercial messes" as well as residential ones.

"Beautification efforts in Decatur could be a very positive step for the citizens of our fair city," he continued, "but sometimes these efforts smell of harassment of those who have less resources by those who should know better. Beauty, yes; but first, physician, heal thyself!"

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