Patterson Place gets help to clean up area City state's attorney adds muscle to eyesore fight

December 17, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Last summer, members of Patterson Place Inc. community organization mapped out a pro-active strategy to clean up the neighborhoods around East Baltimore's Patterson Park.

To find a starting point, they looked no further than association President Mark Kacala's home turf -- the 100 block of N. Bradford St. -- a sliver of city dotted with five abandoned houses that had been eyesores for several years.

But trying to find the owners of those boarded-up homes proved too tough for association members, Kacala said, so they turned to a better-equipped ally for help: the city state's attorney's office.

Their efforts are paying off, with one home renovated and rented out and an absentee homeowner in court this week to face contempt charges for failing to repair a property.

"We can handle dealing with a resident who doesn't keep his house in decent condition," Kacala said. "But dealing with an abandoned property is too monumental of a task for a community association."

fTC Eighteen months ago, the state's attorney's office increased its staff assigned to handle city housing violations from two to five. They've encouraged community organizations to work with them dealing with problem houses, said Assistant State's Attorney Julie Day.

Kacala and other members of Patterson Place met with Day in June and identified the block's troublesome properties. Day tracked down the owners and filed court orders to have the properties renovated or sold.

"This is a good example of working with community groups," Day said. "We're hoping it's an effective way to use our resources."

One owner was deceased, and two have not been located, so those cases are in limbo. The other owners -- B.A.S.H. Corp. and Birute Kalinauskas -- were ordered by the court on June 23 to sell or rehabilitate their properties by Oct. 1.

B.A.S.H. complied and has rented out the property, Day said. But Kalinauskas did not and was in court Tuesday to face contempt charges. The hearing was postponed until Jan. 12, giving Kalinauskas more time to renovate the house or sell it.

Gren Whitman, who works with 10 community organizations surrounding Patterson Park, said he was pleased with Day's ability to get two owners into court and one of the two owners to comply.

"She's batting .500 on that block," Whitman said. "That's pretty good."

Kalinauskas' attorney, Melvin J. Kodenski, said his client wasn't prepared to manage the house when she inherited it.

Kalinauskas, 85, said she was awarded the rowhouse -- a double property at the corner of the block -- about 10 years ago. She rented the house out until about two years ago. "People lived there and never paid me," she said.

The brick rowhouse needs interior cosmetic renovations and the second-floor ceiling sustained heavy water damage last year, Kalinauskas said.

Kacala, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said he would like to see the house sold.

"If you tear it down, you can't get more families in the neighborhood," Kacala said. "That's what we need."

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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