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North Side Neighbors Sick Of Blight

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — City politicians are often touting the importance of our neighborhoods, but one North Side neighborhood isn’t sure they’re listening hard enough.

“Half the time you can’t even see the fire hydrant,” said 62-year-old Rosalee Leonard. “I called about all the litter.”

Leonard tours her Perry Hilltop neighborhood on the North Side. She takes pride in her house on West Burgess Street that she, and her husband, have called home for 30 years.

But they find themselves on an island surrounded by a sea of blighted properties.

Leonard says city inspectors’ codes and fines are ignored.

“This is a sidewalk,” she said. “They put a brand new sidewalk in here.”

Across the way at an occupied house on Holyoke Street, it looks like Mother Nature is taking over. It has a crumbling retaining wall, and a thick thatch of weeds forces people off the sidewalk – into the street.

“I’m really frustrated,” says Leonard. “I have anxiety attacks when I come out the door.”

Vonceril Leonard once tried to cut down the overgrown vegetation on the neighbor’s property.

“I got bit by chiggers all over my body,” he said. “I had to go to the hospital.”

Some neighbors do work hard to keep their yards presentable. One lady, named Lori, mows her lawn – and the lawns of three adjacent homes.

“And has to take responsibility of their own property you know, and the ones that are rundown, and the ones that aren’t being kept up and the one that are vacant – somebody needs to do something with them,” she said.

The city has yet to take down homes which are vacant or abandoned. And where houses have been removed – empty lots turn into a tangle of weeds. City crews have cut them back a couple of times, but obviously not recently.

Jim Michaels owns property there.

“A lot of rodents, when you have overgrown vegetation like this they make their homes there,” Michaels said.

Pittsburgh’s latest incarnation of a clean-up campaign “Don’t Trash My Turf” doesn’t seem to be reaching this part of the North Side.

“I’m just one person,” Roasalee Leonard says, “I’m trying.”

Because it’s a Federal holiday KDKA wasn’t able to contact people at the city or neighborhood organization to comment.

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