A number of properties on Valley and Underwood streets in Saugerties are rapidly deteriorating. The owners are not keeping up with mowing the grass or chopping down the underbrush that’s growing on these parcels. Valley Street resident and former Saugerties village trustee Suzanne LeBlanc thinks it’s time to do something about it.
“Most of these properties are owned by absentee landlords,” LeBlanc told the village trustees at their August 1 meeting. LeBlanc presented the village board with pictures of each property she said was in need of cleaning up.
The best way to solve the problem, she suggested, was a law that would rein in absentee landlords and others in the neighborhood who let their property deteriorate. She suggested that trustees look to how other villages in the county and region have dealt with the problem and adopt a similar law.
The village’s property maintenance law allows the mayor and village code enforcement officer to send in a work crew to clean up a property and then bill the owner. If the owner does not pay the bill, then the cost is added as a lien on the property, forcing the owner to pay up before being able to sell the parcel.
As LeBlanc ticked off the addresses of the unkempt properties, mayor William Murphy noted each one. He and village code enforcement officer Eyal Saad had already talked about some of them, he said, and they would go out and look at the others.
LeBlanc identified 17 properties along Valley and Underwood that were in deteriorating condition. Of those 17, she said, five were abandoned homes, four were owner-occupied, six were rentals, and one was just the foundation of a home, the actual structure having been torn down. She wasn’t how to classify the seventeenth property; she said an home abandoned for five years on Underwood was being used by kids and vagrants.
Murphy said Saad has contacted a number of owners of the properties and told them the places had to be cleaned up. If that didn’t happen, the village government would do it and bill them.
LeBlanc speculated whether something might not have been done quicker if these properties were on Latham or Washington, two of the village’s nicer neighborhood streets.
Trustee Terry Parisian, who lives on Latham, assured her that such neglect would never happen in his neighborhood because people take care of their properties. He also noted that at least one of the homes on Valley is within the village’s historic district. The Historic Review Board, which has purview over that district, won’t let the home be torn down.
“We’ve been pro-active in getting properties taken care of,” Murphy said. “But we need to do more.”