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The Times
  • Police chief, residents voice their support for registry law

  • The members of the Little Falls Common Council conducted a public hearing on their proposed rental dwelling registry law on Tuesday night.

    Twenty-five citizens attended the hearing and heard city Police Chief Michael Masi say he has received several complaints daily about declining neighborhoods.

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  • The members of the Little Falls Common Council conducted a public hearing on their proposed rental dwelling registry law on Tuesday night.
    Twenty-five citizens attended the hearing and heard city Police Chief Michael Masi say he has received several complaints daily about declining neighborhoods.
    “In the past month alone, I have visited the same property 29 times for complaints. This is ridiculous,” he said. “Most of these calls do not involve matters that rise to the level of being criminal, but we cannot ignore that there is a problem of public outcry that has been going on for years.”
    Masi said he recently responded to an address of an 85-year-old woman who has lived in a neighborhood all her life. “This woman is now afraid to leave her home because of the people next door. As police chief I have an obligation to do something to correct the problem,” he said.
    The Common Council’s proposed local law states the purpose of the rental dwelling registry is to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents, and to protect housing units from deterioration at the lowest cost to the owners, occupants and city.
    “By implementing the local law absentee landlords will be held accountable for the conditions and renters they subject our neighborhoods to,” said Masi.
    Mayor Robert Peters agreed the local law could help the situation, but said it would be the first step in addressing a multitude of several issues. “Right now we need to take care of the situation and try to make the city a better place to live for current residents and future residents,” he said.
    Although the local law addresses all landlords, Masi said this is not a blanket criticism of all landlords.
    “There are plenty of landlords here in Little Falls who do a good job, but we cannot ignore the one’s who are being irresponsible, it would be unjust,” he said.
    If the law is adopted it will allow police to serve a notice that a particular property is violating codes laws. “This law will help to hold the person responsible accountable for code violations,” said Masi.
    Second Ward Alderwoman Betty Deming said there is a problem with absentee landlords in the city and no one has done anything about it. “I have talked to residents who rent property and some are running into codes issues such as mold and they cannot do anything about it,” she said, adding the proposed law could help address the many issues that renters face.
    Fourth Ward Alderman Richard Congdon said he thinks having the law in place is a good idea. “If something along the lines of an emergency occurs, we have a contact who could explain that a rental property that looks like two apartments is actually divided into sub apartments,” he said. “This contact information could save lives.”
    Page 2 of 2 - During the hearing several residents stated their opinion, gave suggestions and asked questions.
    Jackie Eckard, of Furnace Street, said the street has become “absolutely ridiculous.”
    “Furnace Street has become the worst street that violates code laws in Little Falls, and something needs to be done to fix it,” said Eckard.
    “I think landlords should be required to put down a security deposit just like the renter this way they will know their money is on the line if they do not keep a property up to the city’s code standards,” said resident Cheryl Long.
    One resident agreed the proposed law could help address the situation, but questioned how it would help with other codes issues such as abandoned properties. The resident also said many of the abandoned properties in the area are still salvageable. In response, Peters said, “When these houses are abandoned they become property of the county and we can only claim them when the county gives them up. As a city there is not much that we can do.”
    “The future of Little Falls is dependent on residential neighborhoods. That is the reason why people move here,” said resident Bob Albrecht.
    “In order to get what we want everybody would have to participate,” said Peters as he encouraged residents to contact Herkimer County Legislator Kurt Ackerman to better solve the issue.

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