WILKES-BARRE — Four days after a woman was shot on the porch of her house, the city’s Neighborhood Impact Team converged on Hutson Street in response to complaints from residents.
Members of the Code Enforcement and Health, police and fire and Public Works departments concentrated on the block between Metcalf and Lehigh streets in the city’s Heights section. The other block of the one-way street between Metcalf and Dana streets went untouched.
“We don’t seem to get a lot of complaints up that way,” said city Administrator Ted Wampole, who was on the street for most of the two-hour health and safety sweep.
A number of rental inspections were scheduled, but because of the number of complaints and the shooting, the scope was expanded and the NIT was activated, Wampole said.
“They’re finding things,” he said.
City inspectors went door-to-door, getting inside rental properties to check for code violations. Others problems were plainly visible such as bags of garbage piled outside, broken windows and unregistered vehicles parked on the street.
Jim Prato walked from his home on Dana Street to watch the activity. Prato, 57, said he’s lived in the neighborhood all his life and pointed out the rental properties.
The targeted block has been troublesome and noisy, he said. “It’s just craziness. It just really is,” Prato said.
The city doesn’t enforce its ordinances, he said and cited a car parked on nearby Hickory Street as an example. The car with a New Jersey license plate has flat tires, a broken mirror on the driver’s side and has been in the same spot for two months. It should have been towed away by now, he said.
As Alice Morris got outside to clean up her yard on the unseasonably warm morning, two DPW employees with shovels worked their toward her loosening up dirt and debris along the curb. Joe Romanelli, DPW dispatcher, told her to rake the yard waste into the street to be picked up by the employees and thrown into a city dump truck.
Morris said she’s lived on the street for six years. It’s not bad in her section, she said. She’s gotten calls when there’s a news report on television about Hutson Street and has had to answer, “No it’s on the other end of the block,” she said.
A 29-year-old woman was shot in the leg Monday night as she was escorting her daughter into their house on the corner of Hutson and Metcalf streets, police said. The woman reported hearing a fight outside. As the woman was closing the front door after bringing in her daughter, the woman was struck in the leg, police said. Her injuries were not life threatening. As of Friday no one has been arrested in the shooting.
Charles Workman welcomed the attention paid by the city. “I’m glad to see them. I don’t know what it’s going to do,” he said.
He said he’s considering moving out of the house he and his family have lived in for 27 years. The makeup of the street has changed as elderly residents passed away and their families sold the houses. They’ve became rental properties, and the landlords haven’t taken care of them, he said.
“Nobody has respect for their neighborhoods anymore,” Workman said.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.