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May 8, 2013

Nightmare on Elm Street?

Resident brings concerns of ‘crime element’ to New Albany board of works

NEW ALBANY — Debora Henry is the owner of an historic Elm Street home that was recently revitalized as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

She said she loves her house, but recently she’s grown wary of what she described as a crime element in the neighborhood.

“The last month we’ve had a rash of break-ins,” Henry said Tuesday.

At the request of the body’s president, Warren Nash, Henry brought her concerns before the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety.

She blamed part of the criminal atmosphere she said has enveloped her neighborhood on shoddy, vacant properties and blighted conditions in the area.

Henry said many of the problem properties are located along East Oak Street.

New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight said she would further research the matter, but that she couldn’t recall any specific rash of burglaries along Elm Street.

“I knew that we have had problems in the Oak Street area in the months past,” Knight said.

New Albany Building Commissioner David Brewer said he plans to meet with Henry on a weekly basis to help identify where the trouble areas are located.

“They are our first line of defense,” Brewer said of residents who bring complaints to the city.

He added that the city performed a code sweep and cleared an alley that connects Spring Street, Oak Street, Elm Street, Culbertson and Ekin avenues about a month ago.

Brewer said another sweep may be ordered in the coming weeks for the same area.

Sprigler property again questioned

Brewer was also asked about the status of a Main Street house that was to be vacated due to codes violations during the board of works meeting.

Last month, J.B. Hawkins asked why someone was allowed to live in the house after it had been ordered to be vacated by Brewer in 2011.

Hawkins — who lives adjacent to the 1308 E. Main St. structure — said he noticed someone living in the house though he thought it hadn’t been cleared by the city for occupancy.

The house had served as an apartment building before it was vacated in 2011 due to structural and electrical wiring issues.

Local developer Chad Sprigler purchased the house and has been in the process of rehabilitating it. However, Brewer said only a portion of the structure had been cleared for occupancy, and last month he confirmed that a person was living in the house in violation of city codes.

Brewer said Tuesday the house hasn’t been vacated yet, but it should be “within a week or so.”

According to Brewer, Sprigler allowed the lady to move into the house due to some issues she’s facing involving a personal relationship.

“She’s a casualty of this whole thing,” Brewer said.

But Hawkins wanted to know if Sprigler had received a violation notice, and if he had been fined for breaking the city codes.

Brewer responded that Sprigler has received a notice of violations but hasn’t been fined.

Hawkins has appeared before the board on several occasions in regards to issues with the building as well as complaints about traffic enforcement and the physical condition of Main Street.

On one instance, he was escorted out of a meeting by police after he continued to press the board for responses though he had been told his time to speak was over.

Two police officers followed Hawkins out of Tuesday’s meeting after he continued to request more information.

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