Residents: Flooded properties are overgrown

By Julianne Peixoto

July 10, 2014 Updated Jul 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) As more and more flood-wrecked homes are demolished, vacant lots in Binghamton are becoming overgrown, say residents living nearby.

"I will say it's still early, obviously as a homeowner in this area I'd like to see them better maintained," said Binghamton resident Shawn Atkins.

Eighteen flood-damaged homes are in the process of being torn down as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency buyout project, and as they come down, they leave behind vacant lots.

It is the responsibility of the city to maintain the properties after FEMA demolishes the houses.

"It's a very well kept neighborhood so we've obviously become concerned," said Atkins. "What will be the future state of these empty lots?"

The current state of many of the lots is a little dismal.

Neighbors told Action News that the grass and weeds measure two feet in some areas, and several people said turtles have begun to lay their eggs in some of the vacant lots.

Members of the city's administration were not available for comment late Thursday. A spokesman said to expect a statement in the coming days.

In the meantime, some neighborhoods are taking it upon themselves to uphold the properties.

"The neighbors have been mowing and maintaining you know in the summer it's not as bad," said Atkins. "In the winter, you can see, these are long sidewalks, that's not a small shoveling job, so that's a very big concern for us."

Atkins fears if lots aren't maintained, they will start to see urban decay.

"We’ve been told in meetings with the City Council the lots would be available for lease," said Atkins. "The unfortunate part is there may be lots that nobody’s gonna lease, and then what happens to those in the future? Do they just go feral? Do they just become overrun lots, then you start seeing urban decay, and that’d be the worst thing."

Atkins said he is extremely confident that the city will help soon.

"If it was any less of a neighborhood I would’ve moved a long time ago," said Atkins. "But you know, we’re committed to the west side of Binghamton, we love it here, our kids love the schools, and there’s a lot of positive things, and hopefully we can mitigate the flood risk and continue to be lifelong residents in the west side of Binghamton."

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