I’ve been sitting on Another Bad Day for Herkimer’s Douglas Barton for a while. I was abruptly reminded of it this morning as alert sirens wailed over the Herkimers and Herkimer and East Herkimer fire units roared past. Fearing that Herkimer Fire Chief Spanfelner and former East Herkimer Deputy Chief Douglas Barton were among the responders, I hurried home, hoping it was just an air raid and armed myself with a cognac. Here’s the posting:
Herkimer Police investigation at 333 Pleasant Avenue
A Herkimer Police officer appeared at Barton’s home at 333 Pleasant Avenue on 4/30/16 shortly after Barton arrived. Barton’s truck and house were photographed. His truck was carefully inspected, with special attention to the left front area, especially the wheel well. (We’ve noticed that Supreme Court Clerk Harriet Tangorra’s tenant Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan of 328 Pleasant Avenue, enjoys fiddling with his own wheel well. Must be a drug street thing.)
Hard to tell without video enhancement, given the distance from the camera and the drizzle, but Douglas Barton may have been issued a court appearance ticket.
It’s heartening to see authentic local law enforcement on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. It’s coincident with the abrupt retirement of our Pleasant Avenue neighbor, Herkimer Police Chief Joseph Malone, outed by an ethics investigation. Only a year ago the Herkimer Police contented themselves with at best gently chiding the Bartons when they did something foul, sometimes even supporting their reign of terror of the street by attempting intimidation under the color of authority.
Pleasant Avenue’s drug trafficking has fallen off, thanks to the feds and the state. Decent folks are moving into newly sold homes and many of our drug scum have left. Perhaps the Bartons will soon join them. (Chief Malone still commands in Mohawk. )
Author Stephen Ames Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency. He lives in Pleasant Avenue’s historic Camera House.
There seemed to be a tendril of smoke in the lower left of Chief Barton’s garage, just before he and his daughter left in his truck. And the same drifting across his backyard. The Bartons appear to avert their gazes from the garage as they approach it. Judge for yourself–here’s the original clip:
Was this a line of inquiry worth pursing? we asked. We’d forwarded all our videos of the fire to the Herkimer Police and Fire Departments on 1/11/16. But, it is Herkimer’s brazen Bartons. And Joyce Barton is ever in the background of Herkimer happenings. Also, the Herkimer Fire Department inspector seemed to agree with Deputy Fire Chief Barton that the cause was probably a faulty circuit breaker. (In a 1930’s garage, its electricity coming over an ancient line strung from the house. )
The fire inspector asked for copies of our video clips after he and a Herkimer police officer viewed surveillance footage on our computer. He said he didn’t know the Herkimer Fire Department’s email address. (It’s unpublished, I later learned. As is Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi’s.) I sent the clips over the next day on a flash drive via a police officer, who said he’d drop them off. So much for chain of custody. But then as folks in Herkimer say with a sigh, “It’s Herkimer.”
The surveillance videos you see on our blog are compressed for transmission to our cloud hosting service. The originals are in high definition format, which can be restored to their origiinal quality, further enhanced, enlarged and forensically analyzed.
Below is the crucial frame from the clip, enhanced by PerPics. The surveillance camera is about 200 feet from the Barton’s garage. Barton and his daughter are in their driveway walking toward the garage. Could they reasonably have been expected to miss from about 15 feet what our surveillance camera saw from 200 feet?
“Upscaled resolution to increase detail. Clarified steam and reduced compression artifacts.” (Forensic video analyst report.)
(Steam = water. Smoke = fire. Which one was present in Barton’s garage?
farewell potential evidence
The Fire Chief’s Fire – What Next?
The Herkimer Post lacks the resources to complete a full video forensic analysis of the video. But maybe you do? Here’s the forensic analyst’s downloadable report and Enhancement Procedure Summary:
Written by Herkimer Post Crime Editor, author Stephen Ames Berry. Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency.
Republished 4.18.16 to include a photograph of now former Deputy Fire Chief Barton. The Herkimer Post regrets the omission.
Rewritten 8.29.16 to enhance narrative and include a visual motif of Herkimer Village government, and a link to a photo of the world’s most beloved German Army sergeant.
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Albert Einstein
Herkimer Post’s 90 day statistics are remarkable for what began a few months ago as a small village’s gardening and environment blog. It’s our crime videos of course. Cameras don’t lie. “What did you expect?” asked one of my former students when I expressed surprise at our stats. (He follows us from Florida.) “You’re embedded on Freak Street. It’s the lure of the grotesque.” “But our police chief lives on this street.” “OK,” he laughed.
There are, believe it or not, some very nice people on this street and in the Village of Herkimer. But viewers can see nice at home. They’ve been coming to Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue in their thousands to see the not-nice. What they’re reading about and seeing are the fruits of willfully failed governance. Thousands of views of the unchecked criminality swirling about the rental home of one family long entrenched on this once truly pleasant street, allowed to run it as their matriarch sees fit. And they have, as our videos show.
Why? As our blog’s visitors see from our posts and videos, Pleasant Avenue is Herkimer’s Drug Central. A lot of narcotics and cash flow through Herkimer, which lies astride the New York Turnpike, an easy few hours drive to New York City and Canada. It’s an ideal location for narcotics trafficking. And as good businessmen, experienced criminals will typically invest resources to protect their territory.
Count with the Count: Herkimer Post Blog views
We hadn’t paid much attention to the Herkimer Post’s blog’s statistics since our first article in November. And we never checked the YouTube analytics for our postings’ related videos. Although we knew our posts of the booming drug trafficking and criminal antics here on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue were drawing far more readers than our real estate or environmental posts, we had no idea how many more. Then the other day we heard a neighbor remark, “No one reads their stupid blog.”
So we counted. And counted again. And were stunned: 2,092 views of our blog posts and 1,296 views of its associated YouTube videos, totaling 3,388 views since our founding. Our YouTube viewers watched 1,957 minutes of Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue in action. (32.6 hours) The YouTube summary analytics are here and also here.
Herkimer Post’s readers and its YouTube viewers are drawn from all 50 states, with a smattering of YouTube viewers watching from Europe and Asia. Only about 33% of our YouTube viewers during this period came from our blog–the rest found our videos either on YouTube, or came to them via social media or from forwarded links.
Herkimerpost.com Google Analytics data
And below are the less reliable WordPress’ Top Posts figures. They show which were our most popular WordPress posts, but the count per post is low: The author can ensure a special post is the first to greet blog visitors by sticking it atop her blog’s home page. (See line 1 below, “Home page/Archives.”) A reader typically arrives on the home page–a blog’s landing page–and there’s the post. For example, Herkimer Man Sexually Abusing Car was our lead home page post for several weeks, as were Drug Trafficking on Herkimer’s Slumlord Row, Drunks Along the Mohawk and Fire at 333 Pleasant Ave. Herkimer NY. Each undoubtedly received several hundred more views than individually enumerated below by title: (Left click to enlarge.)
Herkimerpost.com’s YouTube Videos – The Power of Many Short Videos
Our most successful posts were those with multiple videos. A post on our blog may only have a modest number of views, such as Fire at 333 Pleasant Ave Herkimer,which drew a mere 23 readers. But with compelling YouTube videos embedded in the post, that post soared in overall popularity.
Re-titled Fire Chief Barton’s Fire on YouTube and edited into six consecutive short videos, Fire at 333 Pleasant Ave drew 506 views on YouTube, a 1:22 ratio. Surprisingly, as the below “Top 10 Video” analytics show, only 38% of our viewers came from our blog. 62% were from YouTube itself, the result of searches and suggestions from other viewers. Many of them appear to have come from Berry’s 81.7k Twitter followers.Fire Chief Barton’s Fire attracted 529 viewers worldwide for a total viewing time of 298 minutes or 5 hours. (Click to enlarge.)
The Fire Chief’s Fire – YouTube Views, Watch times and viewer demographics
Pleasant Ave Herkimer- TOP Crime Videos YouTube Views, Watch times and viewer demographics
Herkimer Post’s Most Popular Posts
Total WordPress and YouTube Views
Herkimer, as with many of New York’s Mohawk Valley communities, is hoping to regain its long lost prosperity from the ripple effects of the billions of dollars being poured into the Nano Utica Initiative, a visionary high-tech manufacturing complex under construction in Utica, an easy 30 minutes commute away. Unfortunately, Herkimer is an impoverished, crime-ridden community, ranked as one of the 10 worst places to live in New York State. What we’ve been subjected to since moving to Herkimer two years ago bears that out–death and arson threats, dog poisoning and beating, burglary, mob menacing, police failure to protect.
We at Herkimer Post are determined to ensure that anyone considering moving to Herkimer is aware of all its aspects. We want no one else to walk blindly into we what did here on Herkimer’s Pleasant Ave. All our crime posts are tweeted to Utica Nano@nanoutica, their partner ams AG in Styria, Austria (@amsAnalog), and to our governor @NYGovCuomo.
We like Herkimer and believe in its future. We’ll continue to help ensure that future by covering, and uncovering, all aspects of our community in the hope that new and better days lie ahead for Herkimer.
The Herkimer Post would like to thank it’s 300+ email subscribers for their continuing interest, some from such distant points as Stockholm, Sweden, Graz, Austria, Sofia, Bulgaria and India, as well as its editors’ YouTube and Google+ subscribers and legions of Twitter followers.
We’d also like to thank the New York State Police and the US Department of Justice for their support, and cloistered elements of the US Department of Homeland Security for having our backs.
In fact, Joyce and Douglas Barton have done so much to bring the attention of the world to the Village of Herkimer that The Herkimer Post would like to nominate them as Herkimer’s First Family. Their accomplishments reflect what can be achieved by unchecked intimation and brazen conduct on a lawless street, aided and abetted by a willful failure of governance.
Written by Herkimer Post Crime Editor, author Stephen Ames Berry. Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency.
Now you can commit vehicular assault without leaving home, as this enraged Herkimer man sexually abusing a car demonstrates. It’s a level of depravity we haven’t before seen around Joyce Barton’s 333 Pleasant Avenue command porch.
A few moments before motion triggered our security camera, my wife and our very pregnant daughter exited our driveway and turned left down the sidewalk, off on their morning walk. They’re not on camera, as they weren’t within its view.
The sight of them clearly infuriated the Bartons and their visitor. Only when my family was 200 feet away, safely out of earshot, opposite the Melodie Schulze house, did Joyce Barton’s amorous buffalo lumber into action, demonstrating his weapon of choice when dealing with uppity bitches and the elderly. New York statute clearly defines this behavior at a higher level than mere harassment. Joyce Barton’s oldest daughter, a noted street brawler and soccer player, can be seen hurling abuse from the porch. The other Barton daughter kept out of it, looking faintly appalled.
Joyce Barton cavorts gleefully throughout, carefully not joining in the visual assault, threats and abuse. Here’s the full video:
It’s our observation that Joyce Barton seems diabolically skilled at manipulating those of even weaker intellect than herself, then disposing of them when no longer needed and feeding on their anguish. It’s a symptom of a mentally ill person who’s a Punisher, suffering from Sadistic Personality Disorder. We’ve all met The Punisher. Here’s an Ezine article on how to spot a Punisher.
My wife and daughter later said they heard something faint behind them in the distance, but assumed it was just the usual abuse of pet, child or woman commonly heard from the vicinity of 333 and 331 Pleasant Avenue. (Child Protection Services would save on gasoline by having a 24/7 satellite office on Herkimer’s Pleasant Ave.)
Since we moved to Herkimer almost 2 years ago, the Bartons have conducted a vicious campaign to drive us from our home, correctly perceiving us a threat to Pleasant Avenue’s booming drug trade. They were confident that the Herkimer police would, like the beloved Sgt. Schulze, see nothing. Mob menacing, harassment and two threats of arson directed at us can be directly laid at East Herkimer Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Douglas Barton’s porch. (The only nearby structure that’s burned down recent
ly is Deputy Chief Barton’s surprisingly well-ventilated garage, struck by bad karma. He wasn’t present during the vehicular assault, rumored to be at remedial fire chief training.)
Then there were the break-ins, malicious trespassing, dog poisoning and beating , not to mention the Godfather-like dead birds placed carefully in our vegetable garden at night, dead from BB gun wounds to the chest. (Haven’t yet awakened to a horse’s head in the bed. But a dead rat soared over our fence one night.)
Street Gang Tactic
Fear and intimidation of a neighborhood is a classic street gang tactic to which we’ve been subjected. It deprives police and prosecutors of witnesses, and Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, and if ignored, ensures that control of the street is ceded to drug traffickers. Thanks to Herkimer’s Section 8 slumlords, most of the houses on the street are rentals, sheltering a mix of drug thugs protected by The Punisher and her stooges, and folks just trying to survive. (The Bartons appear to rent 333 Pleasant Avenue from Alan and Clara Klock of Cherry Valley. Cash rent, like drug money, is typically undeclared income.)
Local authorities throw up their hands and the regional press turns a blind eye to the creeping anarchy. It’s an environment rife for expansion and municipal corruption, in which criminals cozy with police enjoy the status of a protected class.
We’ve postings coming on street gang dynamics in Herkimer drawn from our time here. A good information resource on diagnosing and treating a street gang infestation like Herkimer’s is the US Department of Justice’s Urban Street Gang Enforcement manual .
A Tip To The Car Sex Abuser In the Herkimer tradition, Sparky, you might find a sheep a more welcoming fit than a car. But please don’t make a meal of her afterwards–it’s tasteless.
Stephen Ames Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency.
A fast moving fire today consumed the garage located at 333 Pleasant Ave Herkimer NY. The fire started as a small blaze at the left side of the garage. Smoke billowed up and towards the right. This soon turned into an explosive blaze that fortunately did not spread to any nearby homes. A popping noise followed by a loud boom indicated a minor explosion. Property tax records show 333 Pleasant Ave to be owned by Alan and Clara Klock of Cherry Valley. It’s rented to East Herkimer Fire Department Deputy Chief Douglas Barton and Joyce Barton.
At their request, The Herkimer Post has provided extensive footage of the fire and events surrounding it to Herkimer police and fire investigators. We may have additional coverage in a later post.
Security camera video records fire at 333 Pleasant Ave Herkimer
A security camera located directly across the street recorded the fire. The initially insignificant flames and smoke went unnoticed even by people walking right by them. At 13:59 the occupants of 333 Pleasant Ave evacuated. Firefighters quickly arrived and extinguished the fire. An investigation is underway.
The timeline below is a small sample of the video clips recorded by security cameras:
1313 Here’s the garage, soon be a smoldering skeleton of burnt wood.
1326 Deputy Fire Chief Barton arrives home – seems oblivious to blaze
1334 Deputy Fire Chief Barton leaves from driveway – still seems oblivious to blaze. Note what appears to be tendril of smoke in the lower left of Barton’s’ garage picked up by standard surveillance camera at 200 feet.
1349 Smoke billows from garage
4/28/16 Update — See Mission Accomplished! – Fire Chief Barton’s Fire Revisited for forensic video analysis of a crucial part of the 333 Pleasant Ave fire videos. What did Douglas Barton know and when did he know it?
Herkimer’s 333 Pleasant Avenue is no stranger to rowdiness, mob menacing, noise pollution and high-traffic nighttime activity. Screaming of obscenities and threats of violence are common here in Herkimer crime central, whose unwholesome heart is often the Barton residence. It’s not unusual to hear threats directed at small children here on Pleasant Avenue–short outbursts often ending with a nasal “Now!”, a loud slap and a wail of pain. It is unusual, however, to be able to capture sequential criminal activity cascading through one day.
It grew from scofflaw public drinking into a domestic brawl of about thirty very loud minutes. The major combatants were the bottle-bearing Booze Brother (below) and Joyce Barton’s older daughter, a noted soccer player.
Herkimer’s Booze Brothers Arrive
It began with the arrival of the Booze Brothers. They sauntered down Pleasant Avenue to the Barton’s and hung out there, chugging from a liter alcohol bottle. It became clear that bottle bearer was waiting for someone. When she arrived, the battle began.
Audio is needed to truly appreciate the volume of the screaming and the torrent of mutual abuse. It drowned out a telephone conversation I was having in my living room, windows closed.
It’s grown quieter here on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. Several of our more noxious druggie neighbors have moved, one fleeing in the night, allegedly scant hours ahead of child protection authorities. (CPS’ taking of kids on Pleasant Avenue is no rarity. )
The 24/7 fast-food drive-thru pace of traffic to and from 333 Pleasant Avenue has fallen off. We’ve had no arson or death threats or mob menacing since June. No one’s tried to kill our dog recently. Several of Pleasant Avenue’s more responsible landlords, aware we were besieged, have come down hard on their drug trafficking tenants. (Thank you, folks), and code enforcement of Pleasant Avenue’s abundant Section 8 rentals has acquired teeth under Herkimer Mayor Tony Brindisi. Our surveillance cameras have also helped lessen daytime criminal activity after several malicious trespassers and slanderous harassers, drug trafficking’s skirmishers, were publicly embarrassed on the Internet. The street is now as quiet as it should have been when we moved here 18 months ago. It’s seems almost pleasant.
And had it always been this peaceful, we’d be content. But it wasn’t. Some of our criminalistic neighbors felt empowered to try to terrorize us, having no idea who we are or who we know. (I’ll be writing a series about these outrages on my muckraking blog.) Unfortunately, the most depraved of Pleasant Avenue’s drug thugs are still here, brought to heel for now, but awaiting their opportunities. There’s a sense of red eyes glowering from porches when I walk past some houses. Sadly, there’s compelling evidence that the illicit economy supporting Herkimer’s drug scrotes is still bustling, its business model changed from that of brazen 24/7 retail pickups to stealthy nighttime deliveries. It’s aided and abetted by Herkimer’s Section 8 slumlords, who’ve helped make Pleasant Avenue a drug dealers’ haven.
If It Walks Like A Duck… Drug Trafficking Watch – Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer : 10/23 – 10/24 2015 Despite the falloff in retail pickups, Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue still needs a traffic cop: 162 significant motion events in 24 hours caught on video, and 113 in the 12 hours from 1730 – 0530. This is a small residential street in a village on the Mohawk. On parallel Eureka Avenue, one could safely consume a six-pack at high noon on a chaise lounge mid-street and never be bothered by a car. So, what’s up? We’re not the road to New York Turnpike. No wonder the street had to be repaved.
Analysis of our street camera feed for the 12 hours from 1730 to 0530 on October 23 – 24th shows 29 significant motion events at or related to 333 Pleasant Avenue, tenanted by Joyce and Douglas Barton, another 24+ issuing from the parking lot of 232 – 234 Pleasant Avenue, and 11 in and from the driveway of 335 Pleasant Avenue. There’s also much coming and going from 328 Pleasant Avenue, despite the recent best efforts of its owner. The peak period was from 1854 to 0302. These are the classic signs of a drug neighborhood.
Significant events means vehicles and people arriving and departing frequently from an address, in this case 333 Pleasant Avenue. If Pleasant Avenue were a drug trafficking street, 333 Pleasant Avenue with its short visits and frequent dispatches of vehicles would be its heart of darkness. In addition to arrivals and departures from Joyce and Douglas Barton’s, after dark there were at least 11 incidents of vehicles exiting or entering the driveway adjacent to the Barton’s at 335 Pleasant Avenue. (See satellite image, above.) Also late in the evening and early morning, vehicles entered and left the driveway across the street from the Barton’s at least 24 times. Always the same two vehicles, coming and going from the parking lot behind 332 and 334 Pleasant Avenue. 332 Pleasant Avenue is currently vacant. All three are rental properties of Herkimer landlord Jay Smith. (Jay Smith owns a critical mass of houses on Pleasant Avenue, according to the Herkimer County tax rolls.)
333 Pleasant Avenue – The Joyce and Douglas Barton House. The above video captures a series of arrivals and departures from 333 Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer, on 10/13 – 10/24, ending at 0049 hrs. There are many more, but this sequence is typical of nighttime traffic to and from that address on most nights. In this clip, flaring, irregular light from the house emanating into the street at 2319 hrs signals the start of the night’s core activities. (Hopefully the owners have fire insurance.) When a car arrives at 0006, there appear to be at least five people on the porch. The car is met by a figure resembling that of Joyce Barton, and departs 6 minutes later at 0012. This appears to trigger a series of events, with a vehicle leaving the Barton driveway a few moments later at 0033 and returning at 0049, prelude to later such activity from the parking lot of 332 -334 Pleasant Avenue.
Parking lot, 332 – 334 Pleasant Avenue – Jay Smith Rental Properties – At 0222 a vehicle crosses the street to the driveway adjacent to 333 Pleasant Avenue and pulls out of sight. This is the first of at least six vehicle exits from the 332 – 334 Pleasant Avenue parking lot through 0257 hrs. (The camera captures the headlights of vehicles exiting 332 – 334. The vehicles themselves can only be seen if they turn left down Pleasant Avenue. Two vehicles appear to be primarily involved.) 341 Eureka Avenue, a rental also owned by Jay Smith, shares the same parking area.
Satellite Imagery of Herkimer’s 333 Pleasant Avenue and Area
The Google camera truck either never photographed Pleasant Avenue or vanished doing so. But as can be seen from the satellite image, the driveway of 335 Pleasant Avenue way adjoins 333 Pleasant Avenue. The 335 Pleasant Avenue driveway is easily accessible via 333’s rear patio. 335’s driveway is a straight shot from the 332 – 334 driveway, as seen in the video clip. It would be very easy for people at Herkimer’s 333 Pleasant Avenue to access a vehicle parked at the base of 335 Pleasant Avenue driveway, hidden from the street camera.
Pleasant Avenue Night Moves – Unedited Street Footage Below is the unedited footage of motion events trigger our camera for the 12 hour period of 1730 – 0530 on 10/12 – 10/14 2015, from which the brief excerpts above were drawn. I don’t have the resources for sophisticated pattern and facial recognition analysis of the traffic and people bustling up and down the street. But maybe you do.
Just when you thought it was safe to go out in your driveway again, the team sport of Herkimer malicious trespassing takes the field again.
If you read my previous post about The Ball, you’ll know that earlier this summer my neighbors called the police on me when I refused to return a ball deliberately kicked at me with great precision from across the street. It was kicked by a beefy teen, striking me in the back of my legs.
The responding Herkimer Village Police Officer, the pseudonymous Officer Heist, threatened to arrest me for Petit Larceny, duped by this very old scam. He accused me of intending to steal the worthless ball used to assault me, the one I’d already tossed into the neighborhood’s adjacent playing area. It was outrageous.
Ball Harassment Continues
Malicious trespassing in Herkimer is a popular team sport. The innocent children whose ball the Herkimer Police leaped to defend have taken to vandalizing our car under the pretext of retrieving their (new) ball. The ball rolls into our driveway frequently, although the street is perpendicular to the driveway. A baller retrieves the ball, off camera. During his or her stay, our car is scratched or sprayed with acid. Repeat. Repeat. Obviously it’s at their parents’ instigation. These kids are probably paid in cash or drugs. The State Police appear to have clamped down on their parents following their abusive mob interaction with us in the street. (Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is a quietly sanctioned haven of drug trafficking, its workers flush with drug money. There are signs that things far more heinous go on here, also involving children. )
I ordered one girl from my driveway the other day, telling her she was trespassing and not to return. She screamed “Don’t you ever talk to me that way!” As you’ll note from the video clip of her departure, she was quite indignant and circled her hand about her head, indicating that any defiance to her outrageous behavior was insane. Politeness and respect are obviously strangers in her family. Sadly there is an arrogant expectation that my home is a public way to be used however and whenever my neighbors see fit.
Additional cameras have been brought on line. More are coming. We live as I did in Cote D’Ivoire West Africa, where each home’s a fortress, and anarchy prevails and governance has failed.
What I’ve Learned from Herkimer’s Officer Heist and the Pleasant Avenue Ball Harassment
Shrugging our shoulders in helplessness because, Hey! It’s just Pleasant Avenue, ill-serves us all. There are two underlying problems here. The most important is attitude. As a community, we must provide basic services, or we’re not a community. If we can’t do this alone, we have to ask for help. To be a successful community rather than one in name only, we have to change to an “I think I can and I will try” attitude. Too often when problems are discussed here, even the best of Herkimer’s people sigh, shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s Herkimer.” (At some point, perhaps the citizens of Gomorrah probably did the same.)
Herkimer is crime-ridden and plagued by poverty. Many of the children on our street are very intelligent, but they are not engaging intellectually – their education is pathetically inadequate. Some are reading grade levels below what they should. It’s obvious the school system treats them as pariahs and tracks them as such. At least one middle school student didn’t know what the Atlantic Ocean is. One doesn’t know what an ocean is. A very bright and likable neighboring 9th grader periodically made campfires from his homework assignments He correctly determined that Herkimer considers him social junk that his school’s job is keep him off the streets during the day. Like many kids in Herkimer, he’s filled with rage and hopelessness.
We can do better than this, Herkimer. If not now, when?
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.