Neighborhood Enhancement kicks off with inspection tour


When Joe Cook walks around the North Mulberry Street neighborhood where he has lived for 46 years, what he sees is disheartening, he said.

Piles of trash, broken windows, dangling rain gutters, excessive weeds, peeling paint and dilapidated buildings are ruining the city he loves, he said.

"It wasn't always like this. It's gone downhill," he said.

Hoping to change things for the better, Cook and his wife of 28 years, Carol Cook, joined Hagerstown City staffers in canvassing the downtown neighborhood Wednesday to document code violations.

The first Hagerstown Neighborhood Enhancement Effort included Washington, Mulberry, Franklin and Potomac streets and Locust, Cannon and East avenues.

Hagersown Code Enforcement Officer Mike Heyser called the effort a good start.

"Code enforcement can only go so far. The community can improve their neighborhood better than government can," he said.

The volunteers and neighborhood residents met at the Central City Parking Lot for free hot dogs and soda before fanning out across Hagerstown. The Washington County Special Response Team mobile command center RV and the Safety House fire safety center were at the lot to give members of the public a chance to check them out.


About 25 city staff members and 12 to 15 residents made the walk through the neighborhood.

Residents were informed in writing of code violations and were given time to make needed repairs. No citations were issued Wednesday evening.

Homeowners who were doing things correctly also were acknowledged either in person or by notes left in their mailboxes.

"We're covering the good and the bad. It won't be all negative," said Marc David, a code enforcement officer.

David and City Councilman Wally McClure joined the Cooks on their walk along North Mulberry Street.

It was no surprise to McClure that homes and businesses in Hagerstown have code violations. Seeing it up close was another matter, he said.

"It's a real eye-opener when you take a walk through the whole block," McClure said.

Walking through an alley near North Mulberry Street, the group stopped to examine a fenced yard filled with sheets of metal, fencing, piles of lumber, rusted lawn chairs, cans and other debris.

David stopped to make a note about the violations and continued down the alley where the words "killer" and "bloody murder" were spray painted on a garage.

Across the alley was another garage surrounded by weeds, cans and other garbage.

An unregistered vehicle sat in a yard, and Cook said he believed it had been there for a week.

McClure noticed an apartment building with air conditioning units installed in transom windows at the top of each front door frame.

Water could be seen running down the front of the door and pooling on the ground. From up above, a large dog poked its head through a ripped window screen and barked loudly at pedestrians.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II cruised through the targeted area in an unmarked patrol car driven by Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith.

Bruchey predicted Wednesday's effort and other plans for the city will a make a marked difference in the next few years.

Hagerstown recently purchased a $25,000 industrial vacuum cleaner that will be used to clean sidewalks, and workers will spray to keep weeds at bay.

The community's support is necessary if progress is to be made, he said.

"Having the public involved is everything we're striving for," he said.

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