I would like to commend our city officials and business leaders for the progress they have made in revitalizing the downtown area and for their continued plans to make Hot Springs an even more attractive vacation spot. For those readers who rarely, if ever, venture to the heart of the city, join the many tourists who are walking the sidewalks, eating in the restaurants and spending money in downtown Hot Springs. A drive alone will confirm the numbers of tourists who are visiting Hot Springs and enjoying our lively and beautiful area.
However, venture into the residential sections of Hot Springs and see a different story. Despite well-meaning city codes aimed at keeping the modest neighborhoods decent looking, one does not have to drive far to see those codes being ignored -- high grass, shrubs overtaking residences, trash littering yards, recliners on porches, boarded up windows, etc.
In the short block that I live on, we have to call Patti Thomas at Neighborhood Services frequently to post reminders to homeowners and landlords that they need to mow. The Cleveland Arms' new owners went the entire summer without mowing the small area of grass surrounding their building, nor adequately securing their building from the vagrants who frequent it. Another neighbor refuses to roll her trash can 10 feet to the curb, so trash accumulates outside her house; animals tear it open and strew it. And she mows only when forced to by the city, which has been twice since spring.
Neighborhood Services is quick to send an inspector to look at properties when someone calls (this seems to be key). They place a warning notice on the door. Most people quickly get into gear and take care of the problem, but there are many who ignore the notice or do a partial cleanup.
In dealing with the city services over the past months, sending emails and calling, I became so frustrated that I contacted my city director to find out where the system gets bogged down. He referred me to Kathy Sellman (Planning and Development), so I contacted her and cc'd my email to Lance Spicer (assistant city manager) and Bill Burrough (deputy city manager). I received no answer to my question. My neighbor still has trash piled up and strewed in her yard.
My point is this -- what happens on my block happens all over this city. My guess is that some owners are gaming a system that is way too lenient in time and fines. Maybe it is cheaper to pay a fine than to fix one's code violations.
I would like to see The Sentinel-Record pursue the trail of Code Compliance from beginning to end. Perhaps an intrepid reporter can get these city officials to explain their procedures; maybe they are frustrated also and would like to see remedies in place. At any rate, Hot Springs is not just a few blocks down Central Avenue -- it is an entire city and those of us who enjoy the convenience of living in it should not be hostage to the minority of negligent homeowners who do not care.
Hot SpringsEditorial on 09/04/2018
Print Headline: Negligent homeowners