You might think it’s a no-brainer to talk to your neighbors about your street. Well, after a year of living here, we have, and been informed that local slumlords, owning at least 19 homes in the area, ten of them on Pleasant Ave., Herkimer, make tidy incomes from HUD’s subsidized Section 8 housing vouchers program. The landlords are paid directly by the county housing authority. Though required to maintain their Section 8 properties in compliance with HUD Section 8 housing performance standards, you’ll often find these homes in disrepair both outside and inside, in direct violation of HUD requirements and Herkimer zoning codes
On Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, you’ll find some of it renters, both Section 8 and private, have criminal histories, abuse drugs and their children and traffic drugs. This unwitting but successful connivance between Herkimer’s slumlords and drug traffickers has emboldened the Pleasant Avenue’s criminals with a sense of ownership of street and created a menacing sense of anarchy for homeowners. And made Pleasant Avenue a sanctuary for criminals, a Mohawk Valley pirate hole. But it’s only succeeded because of a silent third party, the Village of Herkimer, whose failure of governance is seen through the condition of the street’s rental properties and its lackadaisical policing. Pleasant Avenue’s volatile mix of besieged homeowners and low-income renters can only become a peaceful, if uneasy one with a regular and effective police presence.
All residents must realize that private property means private. My driveway is not your play area. Streets are for automobiles and not ballgames and boisterous gatherings. There are many games that can be played on the grass in backyards: basketball, badminton, volleyball and croquet. Reading books aloud can be fun, too. You’ll find it cooler and safer in your own backyards. Hint – Most children play in the backyard or at a school yard, and not in the middle of the street, especially for hours on end, in front of the homes of people their parents don’t like.
The appalling, dangerous and unpleasant traditions that have been allowed to develop here on Pleasant Avenue in Herkimer over the last 4 years are at odds with neighborhood safety. We are entitled to the same and peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our homes as the rest of the rest of the Village of Herkimer enjoys. We pay taxes for municipal and state services. We expect street brawls, disorderly conduct and harassment and mob menacing to be nonexistent or immediately squelched by a prompt, firm and consistent police response.
Herkimer is truly one of the most beautiful places to live anywhere. But it’s important to feel that all of our community is safe and that residents respect each other rights. For this to happen, we have our work cut out.
- Going forward we hope our Herkimer police will promptly curtail illegal assemblies, brawling, harassment and trespassing.
- Let’s help families teach their children to engage in safe, fun and productive activities in the summer and throughout the year. Free help can come from volunteers and game drives.
- Let’s ensure that all of Herkimer’s rental homes, both Section 8 and private, are regularly inspected in compliance with local code and HUD performance standards.
- Help foster good behaviors by installing surveillance cameras and being quick to share clips with police, Neighborhood Watch, and post on WordPress and social media.
- Focus on and foster self-respect. Everything we do is valuable. Let’s invest in creating, learning and sharing, and divest ourselves of hostile and destructive activities
- Let’s replace bullying, menacing and name calling with communicating.