When a Garage Collapses in Maywood …

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 || By Michael Romain || EDITORIAL || Updated: 6:21 PM

There’s an abandoned house at 900 N. 8th Avenue with a garage that has been in slow collapse for some time. Residents who live near the home have reported that it has been broken into and has become a magnet for rodents and, at any given time, may harbor squatters. In the delipidated garage, there’s an abandoned car that sinks in unison with its surroundings. The home was first brought to my attention in September 2014 — more than six months ago. It was even included in a post highlighting various public works deficiencies in town.

At the time, at least one resident in the area had reported the property to the village and requested the home be declared vacant and boarded up. According to a resident, village officials said they would add the property to some unspecified ‘to do’ list.

In September 2014, the structure looked like this:

image image

As of April 20, 2015, the structure looked like it does in the photos below:

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There may have been measures that were taken by the village to address this problem. Indeed, the home may have been added to a ‘to do’ list. The village could have declared the home abandoned without residents knowing it.

But this isn’t the point.

The point is that residents who live near a property that is literally collapsing in on itself have no knowledge of what the village plans to do with the property, because no plans have been communicated to residents in the area.

There have been no regular status updates even for residents who have expressed to village officials their concerns about the property.

Where is this aforementioned list, for instance? Who among the public can access it? If I lived next door to this house, I’d want, at minimum, to know that my local government had a plan for what to do with it (and properties like it) if not immediately, then at some reasonable point in the future. It would be nice, for instance, if I could keep track of that list as the village checked off problem properties. I can’t imagine a measure like this costing a lot of money to implement.

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But by most Maywoodians’ accounts, I can rest comfortably in assuming that nothing remotely approaching the above is taking place. And that it isn’t taking place isn’t simply because the village is broke or various departments, such as code enforcement and public works, are undermanned.

Besides, government officials communicating with the residents they purport to serve shouldn’t be considered a zero-sum cost. It should be considered an investment that yields dividends over the long run — both in dollars and in social trust.

To begin to restore that trust among residents, whatever department is responsible for maintaining the list that one resident referenced should make it public, so that citizens can see what, if any, progress has been made in dealing with Maywood’s nuisance properties.

That department should also make available a detailed, reader-friendly, description of its process for dealing with residential complaints, in general, and complaints about derelict properties, in particular. I’d be happy to publish this document and even promote it via Facebook and Twitter to as wide, and as willing, an audience as possible. Heck, I’d even help with the draft, if none exists presently.

If a property slowly rots in a state of post-apocalypse for more than six months and no village official seems to be around to deal with the blight, does it matter? To the people who have to live near it — it does. And it is to them the village owes an explanation for why, after several months of residents complaining, this property still looks like it belongs to a place where the sound of civilization — of mutual trust, of healthy dialogue and two-way communication — has ended. VFP

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6 thoughts on “When a Garage Collapses in Maywood …”

  1. Property is registered as a vacant property. Agent for property is: CAL Dev. Corp., 10947 S. Hermosa, Chicago, Il 60643, 773-238-1342 Owner is: Ocwen Financial Services, 2002 Summit Blvd., Atlanta , GA 30319, 770-612-7007 >

  2. It is a pity that so much housing in Maywood has dropped off of the tax rolls and there is seemingly little to be done to restore it. The house next door to me on 21st Ave. has been vacant for 8 or 10 years now. Finding public information about it leads only to some kind of pre-forclosure status. As the squirls and raccoons ravage the house and the shingles from the roof drop onto my driveway, there seems to be no way to buy the house for back taxes or anything. Some corporation who cares nothing about our neighborhood must own it and simply not want to take the foreclosure hit on their books.

  3. Thanks, Michael for a great editorial. All we ever heard and hear from Maywood officials is that “we are under-manned”. That’s because Maywood employees pull over on a side street and sleep or talk on their phones for hours. I’ve watched employees from Code AND police do this. Police can be seen very early in the morning over on 9th in a squad sleeping and looking like they are dead. The street sweeper guy was on my street last fall and he pulled over in front of a neighbor’s house at about 2:45 PM and took a 30 minute nap and talked on his phone for 15 minutes. I have complained that houses in my immediate neighborhood are falling down with roofs caving in, raccoon colonies inhabiting occupied houses’ attics, garages tilting dangerously, gutters and soffits hanging down and falling into my yard along with disintegrated shingles, and Code says “We don’t see nothin’ wrong” (sic). Several empty houses and buildings on and near 5th have become dumping grounds for tires, toilets and mattresses. One belongs to the lady who owns the taco stand/grill on 5th near the post office, and it now has become an eyesore with graffiti all over the windows.

    There is something deeply and intrinsically wrong here in Maywood, and I don’t know whether it is the result of pure laziness, socio-economic and educational background, the way people were and are being raised by their families, stupidity or what. A lot of people don’t mind living in falling-down houses in a town that is essentially a junkyard, and there are more of them that don’t mind these conditions that DO mind which is obvious when you drive the neighborhood streets. And yet, the Trustees are more concerned about moving the Mayor’s office to 40 W. Madison than doing anything for the citizens of Maywood.

    And all of this will NEVER change – that is the saddest part.

    1. In response to the above comment, we can make things change only if concerned citizens get together and DEMAND change and better performance from our elected
      officials and village employees. The lament of “short staff” is starting to run thin. While many parts of Maywood have improved over the last several years (usually due in part to more responsible homeowners moving in) a lot of the problem properties continue to look the same even though glaring code vio;lations have existed for years in spite of people reporting them. Code enforcement needs to step up their game and get out of the vehicles more often when they see violations instead of just constantly driving by. They also need to do a complete sweep of the village via annual inspection and follow though with fines if the problems aren’t corrected. Its the only way we are going to get the town looking better.

  4. Why HAVEN’T this problem been fixed,there are 2houses on 17th one right next door to me and one on the corner in the 800 block of17th ave i have been here 4 years and NOTHING has been done to these 2 houses ,they are dangerous for my kids and myself and others why don’t they just tear them down if they are not going to do NOTHING about them because i’m afraid for my children and myself coming in and going out ,Not knowing who could be in or around these houses it’s very dangerous and it ALSO makes the block looks very badand its ALSO bad for the school children who has to walk pass and get to

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