Rats scurried away and neighbors applauded yesterday as a city bulldozer ended a three-year battle with an East Toledo homeowner.
The bulldozer took less than 30 minutes to knock down a dilapidated and trash-filled 111-year-old house at 1628 Greenwood Ave.
"I've been calling about this house every week for 10 months and they wouldn't do anything," said neighbor Sue Barto. "We just moved back from Florida, and I was beginning to think it was a mistake."
Susan Frederick, the city's manager of code enforcement, said she was relieved the house finally was razed.
Its owner, Andrew Lenz, who inherited the property from his father in November, 2003, was charged criminally with multiple nuisance violations and was ordered to make repairs.
Ms. Frederick said Mr. Lenz locked himself in and refused to vacate.
Final orders to vacate the premises were posted on the front door May 1 or he would face criminal trespassing charges.
His whereabouts were unknown yesterday.
"The owner would not vacate the property, and this was frustrating because once it is in the courts nothing can be done," Ms. Frederick said.
The Greenwood house was the 73rd nuisance structure to be razed in the city this year as part of its goal to raze 300 annually.
Before it was torn down, city workers found rats, waste-high garbage, and feces inside.
The structure's roof, which had a gaping hole on one side, seemed on the verge of collapse. The house was surrounded by high weeds that blocked the sidewalk on one side.
Typically, the city will empty all the belongings from a house before demolition, but Ms. Frederick ordered her employees to leave the premises shortly after they began moving out furniture. It was unsafe for them to be inside, she said.
The cost of the demolition, which was about $3,300, will be billed to the homeowner.
Neighbor Angie Montes watched as the front of the home was torn away and spotted a photograph of the former owner still hanging near the fireplace.
"That's really sad," Ms. Montes said pointing at the picture. "It's such a shame, but this house was a real problem for the neighborhood." Minutes later, the bulldozer crushed the fireplace and chimney, and finished the job by knocking over the kitchen and rear wall.
- Ignazio Messina