FULTON, NY – An entire first ward neighborhood took a stand at Tuesday’s (Sept 18) regular meeting of the Fulton Common Council.
One by one, neighbors of West Second Street South in Fulton addressed their pressing concerns with one troublesome house in their area.
They detailed the drastic loss of quality of life in their neighborhood, all alleged to stem from one property: an owner-occupied multi-family unit that has been without water and power for months.
They credit the “problem house” for recent thefts from their vehicles and campers, alleging drug activity as the reason that constant wanderers are traveling their neighborhood at all hours of the day and night, backpacks in tow and disruptive in nature.
Trash has spilled out from the house into heaping piles in the yard, they alleged.
In fact, the City of Fulton has deemed the house “Unfit for Occupancy” as there is no running water or garbage removal services to the property, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said.
The owner of the house is scheduled to appear in court for “several related matters,” but due process of the law requires a timely process in resolution, Woodward explained.
“If the law allowed it, we’d be right in there,” he said.
The occupants of the house, however, have started targeting their neighbors as remedies to their problems.
One neighbor, having just purchased her first house in January next door to the alleged problem house, became emotional as she explained the horrors she has endured since moving in.
“The things that I witness and hear coming from that house are mortifying,” she said. “From having their dog being loose, animal cruelty complaints, to just recently they were coming into my yard and taking my hose. They dragged it all the way up my driveway, all the way up to the side of their house, using buckets of water for hours to the point where they left it in my front yard and my front yard flooded my basement.”
That is just a handful of the complaints she has called in to local police, in a total of at least 100 calls to law enforcement in the nine months since she moved in, she said.
Most recently, she reported odd smells from the property and a conversation in which a woman tenant was told they would “drag her to the basement and kill her.”
Through tears, she said, “I feel horrible because I just bought my first house … and I’m going to have to list it. I haven’t even been there a year and I don’t feel safe.”
Other neighbors approached the council with concern for a child living on the premises.
Referred to as “what could become the next Erin Maxwell,” they questioned why complaints to Child Protective Services have not resulted in the child’s removal from the home.
Ultimately, city officials emphasized that they are doing all that they can, legality considered.
As neighbors pressed for expedited action based on health safety conditions, county legislator representing a portion of Fulton, Frank Castiglia Jr. said the Oswego County Health Department has no control over what happens in the city of Fulton, that is determined by city code.
The process of court to determine a resolution is unfortunately lengthy, Woodward said, and without legal proof aside from complaints to sustain a warrant, the house can not legally be entered by law or city officials.
Instead, Woodward will continue handling the matter in court as bound by legalities of the United States Constitution, he said.
Sixth ward councilor Larry Macner handed out business cards to Fulton Police Department investigators to report suspicious activity and Mayor Woodward reminded all residents to call 911 to report any suspicious, dangerous, or troublesome activity.
Though discouraged, neighbors vowed to continue being vigilant, observing and recording information like license plates and descriptions, and issuing complaints.