Getting to know your neighbors can help in sticky situations - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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Getting to know your neighbors can help in sticky situations

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Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014 9:45 am

You know that house down the street.

Yeah, the one with the overgrown yard or house that’s falling apart.

You’ve probably thought there’s nothing you can do about it.

Maybe you’ve been concerned about your property value declining because of it.

That’s been a concern for Ron George.

George has the nicest, greenest lawn in his Glendale neighborhood, by far. He takes great pride in keeping his property looking nice. In the past, he helped clean out the drug dealers across the street.

Now, he’s eyeing a house a couple of doors down.

It’s not a pretty sight.

The yard is full of overgrown, patchy weeds.

There’s a wrecked car in the driveway and what looks like garbage around the entry.

And George has had enough.

“It’s something that everyone driving by says wow, this must be a real trashy area. If your neighborhood is run down then other things follow is my opinion,” George tells me.

He says he’s gone to the city of Glendale. But he doesn’t feel they’ve done enough.

And he says the homeowner doesn’t seem interested in talking about it.

“I’ve tried to speak to this gentleman. He won’t answer his door,” George said.

So he let me know about it.

We contacted the city of Glendale.

They say they originally cited the homeowner, Evan Savage, in November of 2013 because he’s had numerous violations that haven’t been brought up to code. So they have to let the legal process play out.

And they say the case against Savage continues.

While I was out talking with George, I noticed a truck pull into a driveway down the street. It turned out to be Savage, and he told me his story.

I asked George to follow me back.

“So this is Evan. This is Ron,” I introduced them.

Yes, this is the first time the neighbors have ever met.

Savage tells us he’s been “trying to work with the city and trying to get volunteer help.” He says volunteers have helped him clean the place in the past, because he’s not financially or physically able to get the work done himself.

“I injured myself fighting fire,” said Savage, a retired Phoenix firefighter and military veteran. He says he’s still having a very tough time getting over the death of his wife a few years ago. “She was just a beautiful person and I can’t tell you how much I miss her.”

All of that he says, has led to the neglect of his house and yard.

They are stories George has never heard.

“If you didn’t mind, I’d be able to come and treat it for you,” George tells Savage.

In the meantime, Ray Maione with the Phoenix firefighter’s union found out about Savage’s situation.

“We went out and made contact with him that next day and brought him back to the fold with us,” Ray said.

Maione is the vice president of member services, and he rallied the troops, or rather, the firefighters.

“A bunch of firefighters are going there to clean up his house top to bottom,” he tells me.

And it’s already starting to happen. Firefighters even built Savage a big fence across his driveway to hide the backyard from view. They say they will be out monthly to take care of the yard.

The city of Glendale officials say Savage is now almost in compliance.

While that won’t stop the process of their case against him, they say the “prosecutors and the judge always have the option to decide a minimal consequence.”

And George was able to see Savage as something other than just the owner of the eyesore.

“I respect you as a firefighter. I respect you as my elder and my neighbor. And if I can help you, I’m two doors down sir,” George told Savage.

Later, George told me he’s happy about the outcome.

“I think it’s great. Unfortunately it took this much hassle to meet my neighbor, but I can only see positives from it.”

• Joe Ducey is helping people like you everyday on ABC15 News at 6 p.m. If you’ve got a consumer issue you can’t solve, “Let Joe Know.” Contact him at joe@abc15.com or (855) 323-1515.

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