As part of Sikeston's ongoing effort to improve property maintenance, I have diligently kept watch on a handful of properties whose owners have been chronic abusers and violators of city codes. These problem properties are scattered across town in a half-dozen separate neighborhoods.
And I have good news and bad news.
Some of these targeted properties have shown favorable improvements. Others remain virtually unchanged in the past six months though some of the more obvious violations have been addressed. It's important to note also that not one of these structures are on the initial list of 35 properties being removed by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.
But one disturbing trend is equally evident. It may sound simplistic but some people choose to live in filth. It's not an issue of economics. Don't give me that lame argument. The changes needed in these properties take some elbow grease, some sweat and a little time. And these properties are inhabited by healthy residents who cannot claim that some physical issues render them unable to clean their properties.
No, the simple fact is that some people choose to live a lifestyle that accepts trash in the yard and rubbish piled up on every available space. These cluttered and unhealthy eyesores in many instances fall between the gaps in the LCRA's efforts. And there may be so many of them to address that the task may be formidable.
Why would anyone choose to live in dirty, cluttered surroundings? I haven't a clue. But I'm convinced this is the case.
One house with which I am familiar has been a source of great concern. This resident has been fined three times in city court for maintaining a public nuisance. Following the third fine ($300), the resident indeed had truckloads of trash and abandoned vehicles (2) removed. And for one week, there was an improvement. Granted, this house is no garden spot and probably never will be. But it was an improvement.
In the past month, however, the property has reverted to virtually the same state of disrepair as before. Granted, the vehicles are removed. But it remains an eyesore for the entire neighborhood.
The point is worth repeating. Some people have no desire to live in a civilized manner. They accept what most others find highly unacceptable. And I believe firmly that in their hearts and minds, they see nothing wrong with the appearance of their property.
One by one, house by house, we must find a way to root out these property owners and renters. If not by ordinance, then by public pressure.
If you think about it, we have little choice.