Struthers street department struggles to maintain overgrown lawns

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – The Struthers street department has been struggling to keep up with hundreds of overgrown lawns at vacant homes, and neighbors are frustrated that it’s hurting their property value.

The sound of a lawn mower can be annoying but for Earnest Darby, it’s a sweet sound.

“It was a wonderful noise, I loved it. I came outside to see what was going on.”

It took two mowers and two trimmers to cut the vacant house’s lawn next door.

“We’ve been cutting this yard for two years,” said Tim Daley, Struthers Street Foreman.

City ordinance requires grass to be kept at a certain height. Anything over six inches gets a written notification.

“We give them five days, sometimes a little more if they call and have certain circumstances that affect them,” Mayor Terry Stocker said.

“Probably about 35 to 40 percent of them will be cut once you send a letter,” Daley said.

Street department crews check houses and if the grass isn’t cut, the city does it and charges $100. If that fee isn’t paid, a lien goes on the property.

“We have over 200 letters that went out on high grass in the last two weeks. So far, we’ve addressed 50 of those, cut them,” Stocker said.

About 80 were sent back because the owner doesn’t live at the house anymore, it’s vacant or because of some other circumstance.

“We have a lot of properties that either are foreclosures, bankruptcies or people have moved, and even parcels of land that a house was once on,” said Patrick Campbell from Struthers Police and Code Enforcement. “People no longer tend to them or care for them…I’ve seen some backyards where it looks like a rain forest.”

Stocker says he understands why some residents are frustrated about overgrown grass in their neighborhood.

“I know people are upset and I don’t blame them. If you live in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of tall grass and you have to live under those conditions, it gets kind of frustrating but we’re doing the best job we can.”

Darby is beyond pleased that crews cleaned up the mess next to him.

“It looks real good, they did a real good job.”

The street department hired four summer helpers, nearly doubling the workforce to help cover more ground.

To keep up, Stocker says it’s about hitting one ward at a time before moving on to the next.

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