The house across the street

When I first viewed the house where I’ve lived for more than 25 years, my immediate thought was that it was too small for my eventual family. At the time it consisted of two 2-bedroom flats and I couldn’t imagine it accommodating the children my husband and I planned.

At the Open House, where I was the only attendee other than a resident from the house across the street who was clearly there to suss me out as a potential new neighbor, I was directed to the large attic space which had been previously used as additional living space.

Hmmm, that showed some potential for another couple of bedrooms and a second bathroom…

The across the street neighbor charmed me with his brogue and sparkling eyes and the next thing you knew, we were moving in. We were lucky enough to have George, his wife and their visiting children and grandchildren as our neighbors and friends for a number of years before George unexpectedly, and sadly, died. They are sincerely missed.

Since that time, the house across the street has rotated through an array of owners and occupants, some better neighbors than others.

I don’t know if I can recall each of the residents of that property, but there have been some exceptional ones – and that’s not a complimentary statement.

There was a seemingly revolving cast of young people who entered and exited the house for a period of time causing other neighbors and I to wonder who actually lived there, because it was impossible for us to determine. These residents included a young woman who was violently murdered in that very home prior to it being set on fire to hide the crime.

I was a witness in the trial that resulted in a man’s conviction for that death. I never would have imagined a situation such as that on the spring day when I first met George.

The house was empty for a number of years before being purchased by a man who made a game attempt at rehabbing the property. His attentions were inconsistent, but generally moving in a positive direction, until work suddenly ceased. The word on our street was that he died.

The last couple of years, the house has been occupied by yet another revolving door group of people. The lawn never gets mowed, the trash, including abandoned furniture and tires, is piled along the side of the house and they seem to have quite a few small dogs (enough to suggest that they may breed them) who have been known to wander around unattended.

And, as many on our block have observed and concluded, they appear to deal drugs.

There are frequent visitors to the property who often leave their vehicles running and depart from the house with bags which they didn’t have with them when they arrived.

Recently, I personally witnessed, while I was retrieving my recycling bin which had ended up on their side of the street, someone leave that house with what looked a vacuum sealed bag of weed. When the man saw me watching him, he changed course and instead of opening his car door, he opened his trunk and placed the bag in there.

Speaking of bags, during the summer, someone from that house dragged what appeared to be a very heavy trash can down to the end of the block where the sewer grate is located. He then proceeded to attempt to force the bags, which were determined to be filled with dog excrement, into the sewer which eventually feeds into the Hudson River.

When he was unsuccessful in this task, he simply walked away leaving the trash can and remaining garbage at the corner.

This week’s trash day devolved into trash 5 days as the 7 or 8 black trash bags the residents of the house across the street delivered to their curb went uncollected for some unknown reason. Multiple calls were made to the appropriate city department and they were eventually removed on Friday. Our trash pickup day is Tuesday.

I am so over the people who live in the house across the street and the lack of attention by the city when it comes to enforcing existing rules and ordinances.

I was irate when I received a certified letter regarding the lapse in my rental unit’s Certificate of Occupancy. I found the tone of the letter and the means of delivery to be aggressive and accusatory. I have to wonder what the status is of the house across the street and whether it’s in compliance with the Grouper Law and other existing legislation in the city of Albany.

From the SUNY Albany website.

As winter approaches, I know their sidewalks won’t be shoveled, their vehicles complete with expired registrations and inspections, will remain on the wrong side of the street preventing plows from attending to our narrow block and their garbage will continue to be an eyesore and blight on this neighborhood.

My street is filled with wonderful neighbors. People who collect one another’s packages, snowblow each other’s sidewalks, share the bounty of backyard gardens and possess keys to houses other than their own in cases of emergency. I love the diversity of the residents, our proximity to the Normanskill and the thruway, and all the shops and restaurants on Delaware Avenue.

But, the house across the street needs to be addressed and dealt with by the city, sooner rather than later. I’d prefer to not be called to testify in front of a grand jury ever again.

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