By RACHEL DOVE-BALDWIN
WILLIAMSON - “It felt like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one,” commented Madonna Shapiro, as she stood in her yard on Maple Walk, looking at the demolition process underway on a structure situated less than 10 ft. from her home that has been a matter of great concern for her for more than eight years.
Shapiro was speaking of the morning she walked outside her front door to the sight of the deconstruction project beginning next door to her home.
“I’m going to be honest – I had truly given up hope that I would ever see this house demolished, but I am ecstatic that it is happening,” stated the Maple Walk resident. “I had hoped, prayed and practically begged for this, and when that didn’t seem to work, I attended every city council meeting I could, voicing my frustrations to anyone and everyone that would listen.
“Maybe the old saying is true that says the squeaky wheel gets the grease… I’m not sure what occurred to make this dream a reality after all these years, and frankly, I don’t care,” said Shapiro, with a laugh. “All I can say is - Thank God!”
The dilapidated house was occupied until approximately one year ago, when a notice of eviction was served on the family after several years of attempting to get the property condemned as an unsafe and unsanitary environment unsuitable for human occupancy had passed.
“I was sitting on my porch one afternoon and heard a crash,” explained Shapiro. “I got up and looked and there was a window lying on the ground, shattered to pieces after falling out of the upstairs of the house. The chimney was leaning, in fact, the entire house was leaning.
“There were holes in the roof, pizza boxes lined the walls, being used I suppose as some type of barrier to the wind and rain – it’s impossible for anyone to believe someone would actually stay in such a place if they didn’t come up here and see it for themselves.”
In previous stories featured by the Daily News about this matter, one of Shapiro’s greatest fears was that the wood structure would catch on fire. With the home as dry-rotted and as full of garbage and old furniture as it was, the neighbor was all too aware that her home would be lost.
“You can’t drive a vehicle, let alone a fire truck out to where these homes are,” Shapiro stated. “By the time they would have ran the fire hoses through the neighboring yards on Elm Street, my house would have been nothing but a memory.”
West Salvage General Contracting is the company executing the demolition, and the business owner stated that the location of the house makes for a slow and tedious process.
“You have to tear it down board by board, just a small section at a time,” stated the contractor. “This is a three-story house with unstable supports that is sandwiched directly in between two other homes, and you can’t access it by vehicle.”
The head contractor explained that the smaller debris from the house was being packaged inside boxes and then placed on a large flat buggy, and were then transported to a dumpster Veolia Water had placed in the parking area to accommodate the rubble. The larger pieces are either hauled to the dumpster if they will fit inside, or are transported to the landfill in Pike County, Ky.
“We’ve been working for close to a month now and we’ve made good progress considering the circumstances, but we weren’t able to work last week due to the electrical outages at our homes,” he explained.
“We’ll get it done; it’s just not a quick fix.”
Shapiro stood on her porch and watched the construction workers as they slowly and meticulously continued their labor on the structure that is now approximately half-way gone, and shared her thoughts on the project.
“To know that one day in the near future, I will be able to sit out on my porch, read a book and drink a cold glass of tea and not have to look at this monstrosity has definitely given me something to smile about and look forward to.
“It’s been a long time coming, and although I still harbor bitter feelings about the length of time that passed before we managed to get to this point, I have to say that I am very grateful and thankful that it has finally happened,” Shapiro concluded.
“No one can truly understand what it was like to live beside of this mess unless they’ve been in a similar situation.
“God help them it they have been.”