ELYRIA - A block party of a different kind got started with a boom Monday morning on Glendale Court.
The boom came from the large claw of an excavator that bit into a vacant house one small chunk at a time until the entire three-story structure was reduced to a pile of rubble. It's common for residents to come out from their homes to watch the razing of a neighborhood fixture, but the residents of Glendale Court truly celebrated the elimination of a source of blight on a street filled with prideful homeowners.
"We're here to celebrate new beginnings," said Holly Huff, head of the Cascade/Furnace Neighborhood Watch. "We are a neighborhood in every way and because of that every time we have a new beginning we celebrate - no matter how small."
City officials are likewise celebrating the razing of 115 Glendale Court. The home marks the 100th house the city has torn down since January. Through the use of federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds or money garner through the state attorney general's office, the city has worked aggressively to reduce the number of vacant and dilapidated homes in the city, relics that bring down property values, attract rodents and pests and serve as safe havens for vagrants and criminals.
"For this neighborhood, this has been a source of problems as are the other many vacant homes that need to come down around the city," said Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka. "An example of that can be found in other places, like a home we will have to board up again after vagrants ripped away the plywood so they can get back in. When the home is gone, they will have no other place to be in the neighborhood."
Residents applauded when the first bit of the home - a front porch - came crashing down just after 9 a.m. It was the catalyst that started the slow, but steady destruction of the property.
Barbie Blackhall watched from her driveway. It was a bittersweet moment because she knew a family who lived in the home several years ago. Still, she joined in the celebration of the demolition by baking muffins, breads and pastries for her neighbors.
"There was a life in this house," she said. "It wasn't always a nuisance. There was a time when a family lived there, celebrated Christmases and shared birthdays. It needs to come down, but it was not always the place you see today."
To honor the past residents, Blackhall plans to light a candle on the property when crews clear out.
It is yet to be determined what will happen to the parcel. Kevin Brubaker, supervisor of the city Building Department, said the home is still owned by a bank and a lien will be placed on the property by the city.
Huff, who lives directly behind a neighboring home on Phillip Court, said she knows area residents want to take the property back for their own use.
"The backyard hasn't been cut in at least two years, so we would love to get our hands on the land," she said.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.