WEST BUECHEL, KY (WAVE) - A local mayor. A bad neighbor.
A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter investigation uncovered piles of trash, broken windows and overgrown grass at properties owned by a Jefferson County elected official. As Troubleshooter Eric Flack discovered, Louisville Metro has tried to force her to clean things up, but she ignored those orders, sticking taxpayers with the bill for the clean up.
There is an unholy mess at 3309 East Indian Trial, rotted out walls at 2519 Saint Xavier and at 2522 Gilligan Street it's hard to tell where the garbage ends and the building begins. All those properties are owned not by some slumlord, but by West Buechel Mayor Sharon Fowler.
An old church that sits on that East Indian Trial site in Newburg is riddled with broken windows and bent doors. There's a homeless person living inside. The dilapidated building surrounded by piles of trash and four foot high grass that grows right though Steve Grimes fence.
"Its a disaster," Grimes said.
Grimes is not the only one forced to deal with the mess. There's a neighborhood behind the property, an apartment complex next door and Liberty High School, a Jefferson County Public High School, all forced to live with all the overgrown weeds and trash.
"I haven't seen anybody here trying to clean it up," Grimes said.
It didn't look like anyone had cleaned up Mayor Fowler's west end property either. The pile of garbage out back is so big it was nearly blocking the alley.
Neighbor Terry Ormond wants something done.
"I mean that's her property," Ormond said. "She bought it. What is she waiting for?"
We got tired of waiting for Mayor Fowler to call us back, so Troubleshooter Eric Flack approached her as she drove into work.
"Please, go away," Fowler said.
She tried to slam the door on the attempt to get answers, so Troubleshooter Eric Flack followed her as she slowly circled City Hall. Louisville Metro Government has gone round and round with the Mayor as well.
We uncovered records that reveal codes and regulations spent thousands cleaning up her properties, after Fowler ignored orders to do it herself. Louisville Metro is now trying to get back all that taxpayer money by filing liens against the two term West Buechel Mayor who finally elected to pull into city hall.
"If you go inside and wait at the desk she will be glad to talk with you," a West Buechel police officer told Flack.
The Troubleshooter team waited outside just to be sure. Then the Mayor took off in her truck a second time leaving the questions, and the WAVE 3 camera, in the dust. Mayor Fowler sped away from West Buechel, hooked a hard right into a shopping center, circled around back, then headed right back where she came from.
When we reached Mayor Fowler by phone a few days later, she said she wouldn't stop to talk to us because she's not comfortable being on camera.
"Personally I have fallen victim to the economy," the Mayor explained. "I am trying to get rid of the properties because I am unable to handle them right now financially."
Actually it's the bank who is trying to get rid of Mayor Fowler's properties. All of them have now fallen into foreclosure.
"It's ugly," Grimes said.
Properties that fall into foreclosure can stay vacant and run down for years. To speed things up, Louisville Metro has launched a new program to step in and take over certain foreclosures includIng Mayor Fowlers. As for people who think she let down the community, Mayor Fowler said, "It's happening to a lot of people. I don't know what to say."
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:55 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:55:08 GMT
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