Cambridge City council members are showing an increased frustration with blighted homes and yards, but are grateful for a large donation toward a restoration project.

During their Aug. 14 council meeting, councilors asked Ken Risch, public works superintendent, for updates on residents’ complaints.

An owner in the first block of East Main hired someone to cut weeds taller than a truck. Some progress was made in the 500 block of East Main and 100 block of Myers Avenue.

Councilors told Risch that letters must be sent by Aug. 18 for two homes each in the 400 block of West Front and 500 block of East Church, and they will be revisited at September’s meeting. Police Chief Richard Roberts learned about abandoned vehicles near Church and Gay streets and said they’d be addressed the next day.

Councilor Jim McLane said he quickly listed 26 offensive properties. He urged town employees not to wait on citizen complaints before sending letters for egregious violations, such as weeds covering a Church Street sidewalk, or wait beyond 10 days to mow tall grass/weeds after sending letters.

Risch said some owners haven’t mowed again since receiving letters this year, and asked for tougher penalties for repeat offenders. Councilors said some offenders live out of state, while some unkempt back yards are owned by a local person who has properties in nearly every town.

Town Attorney Bob Bever will revise documents for the council’s approval. Roberts said word might spread if the town begins enforcing orders in court.

Capitol Hill

American Legion Post 169’s Eric Triplitt and David Siggers presented a $7,000 check toward Capitol Hill Cemetery restoration. Town officials recently announced that the extensive repairs underway after last year’s desecration couldn’t be fully completed without additional donations.

Water project

Wessler Engineering’s Adam Sitka said the in-town water main project that’s nearly finished will cost $66,000 less than expected because less asphalt and pipe were needed.

Sitka also asked the council to approve a $199,000 agreement related to designing, surveying, permitting and bidding a 1-million-gallon tank at Gateway Industrial Park, not including land acquisition.

Bever raised concerns about signing without early termination opportunities if the town can’t secure $8 million financing. The council approved the agreement, pending Bever’s approval of revisions.

In other business

  • Councilor Jeff Mardis raised concerns about attendees possibly bringing alcohol to July’s Creitz Park concert, but Roberts said the officer providing security didn’t observe disorderly conduct or hear complaints, and Councilor Debbie McGinley saw no issues.
  • Robert Miller suggested a wooden tree fort for Creitz Park’s playground and his wood company could reduce costs. Council members suggested he and others attend the 6 p.m. Sept. 20 park meeting at town hall because playgrounds are a key topic.
  • The council supported Zoe Davis’ request for railroad ties to help with drainage issues at her North Walnut home until the town can permanently solve them.
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A version of this article appeared in the August 23 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.