Plywood Cover-Up Dismays Neighbors 

The Kenneys were dismayed. "They could've done something with it other than that," Tracey Kenney says.

The city cannot tell owners of abandoned buildings what to do, says city spokeswoman Michele Quander-Collins, although city code stipulates that owners must secure buildings from entry, keep the grass cut and pay taxes.

But last spring, the city's Community Assisted Public Safety (CAPS) program took on the site. CAPS expedites solving problems of blight and criminal activity by teaming up police and city officials with individual neighborhoods.

CAPS helped the neighborhood association take owner Paul Spears to court, where he was fined and told to fix the property. Since then, however, the only visible change, besides the plywood cover, is the addition of a few new boards that were apparently nailed up to support the sagging roof.

Spears says the plywood is meant to stabilize the shaky structure. He says neighbors wanted him to make cosmetic improvements to the building, but "we need a hell of a lot more than that." He intends to begin renovating the 91-year-old structure as apartments or condominiums in three or four months, he says, as soon he gets all the necessary permits from the city.

There's a lot of work to do; the city real-estate assessor's office lists the building's value as $7,900. Still, "it's a really nice building," says Spears. "Maybe we can fix it." — Melissa Scott Sinclair

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