Seek and destroy was the mission for residents on Pershing Avenue who wanted a condemned house on their street demolished.
The house was located at 91 Pershing Ave., and thanks to Joe Paterniti, his resilient neighbors and city officials it was demolished earlier this month. Vince DeJoy, city development director, said the resident of the house had become sick. In his final days, the sick man tried to get rid of his mortgage with the bank because he could no longer make the payments. Unfortunately, the man was unable to work a way out of the mortgage and, after he died, the house fell into complete disrepair.
Last May, the house was condemned by Todd Peterson, city housing inspector, who said the foundation of the structure was unsound and could give away at any time without warning. The problems continued with ownership because there were no living relatives responsible for the property, and it remained in limbo.
Meanwhile, residents of Pershing Avenue were upset about the condemned, unsafe house still standing in their neighborhood. The residents, led by Paterniti, organized and started writing letters and calling city officials about 91 Pershing Ave.
''Obviously it was something that was an eyesore in the neighborhood for many years, especially the last three to four years with no one living in it,'' said Paterniti, who lived next to 91 Pershing Ave. ''What I did was draft a letter for the neighborhood, and then I listed Vince's (DeJoy), the mayor's (Sam Teresi) and city council members' phone numbers. I said, 'Call these people and express your concern over the house, because not only was it an eyesore, but it was a safety issue.''
Paterniti said a week after the initial letters and phone calls, city officials condemned the house. However, Paterniti said he had questions about how long it would take to tear it down.
''I was told there were many houses on the list for demolition,'' he said. ''Our next move then was to talk about reassessment because it was necessary with this house on our block. That is when things really got done. I don't know what Vince (DeJoy) did, but it was done real quick.''
DeJoy said one move was to contact U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.
''They made some phone calls, and found a property management firm that handles these type of properties. We seemed to be on the right path to dealing with this horrible house,'' DeJoy said.
However, that didn't work out as planned because of red tape issues with the house and the code violations. So DeJoy's next step was to get a court order to demolish the house before a tragic incident occurred.
''We got the court order, and solicited bids to have it torn down once we found we had a clean report that there was no asbestos present,'' he said.
The demolition work was done by R. Patti Concrete & Excavating earlier this month. Paterniti said he appreciated the work done by city officials to remove the eyesore in the Pershing Avenue neighborhood.
''I want to thank the department, Vince (DeJoy) and Todd (Peterson), for their diligent work,'' he said. ''They're trying to keep the neighborhood revitalized. This is something that probably needs to be done more regularly in more neighborhoods.''