Parents concerned over abandoned homes near school

By Lindsay English -


LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For more than two years now, parents and PTA officials at Byck Elementary School in Portland have been trying to get something done about several abandoned houses just across from the school and some that border right on the school's property.

"We just built a playground for the neighborhood and we are building seven raised beds so they can learn gardening and we just redid the front and this is unacceptable," said Byck PTA member David Drummond as he gestured toward the vacant buildings.

Three homes directly across from the school's entrance are boarded up eyesores, overgrown with weeds that are creeping up around the sidewalk and easement.

"The children shouldn't be looking out the window of their classroom to see boarded up houses, weeds and trees blocking the house to the point where it's so shaded and so dark you can't see what is going on over there," said Kassi Clifford, a PTA member with three children who attend Byck.

Just around the corner from the school, another boarded up house has become a makeshift dump site.

"When we see a house that has one piece of garbage then someone feels it's acceptable to throw another piece of garbage and then what you find is you created a garbage dump adjacent to a school building," said Myrdin Thompson, another Byck parent and 15th District PTA President.

Parents and school staff are concerned about the outside of the vacant houses and also worry about what may be going on inside. They say they've been calling Metro officials for two years but nothing has been done.

Records show that some of the abandoned houses have had liens and fines levied against them, some as high as $82,000.

"The ball is obviously rolling," said Kerri Richardson, a spokesperson with the Mayor's office. "We've levied thousands of dollars in fines, we've referred them for boarding and cutting. It's a long process, but they are doing the right thing by contacting the city first and letting us know what the problems are."

"I'm sure the city does have protocol, which I appreciate," Thompson said. "But as a community, we ask ourselves how many voices and how many phone calls before the city says we've reached our limit on that action and we are now done with these types of phone calls and we are now taking action."

PTA Vice President David Drummond says he wants to see something done, even if it means doing it themselves.

"We are an action-first kind of school, so we wouldn't mind taking it on if we were allowed," Drummond said.

Metro officials say because homeowners have specific rights, the process to resolve this type of situation is slow-moving.

Most of the homes in question are also considered historic homes, which makes it even harder for the city to take action.

Copyright 2009 WAVE-TV and Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.