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Community activist counting on 2,300 good neighbors

Stan Kaznowski III has an effective, grass-roots method for finding how many homes will receive information on being a good neighbor. He counts them.

The president of the Town Park Home Owners Association in Cheektowaga and his wife drive around the neighborhoods and count each house.

"It doesn't take long," he said, adding it gives him the opportunity in a couple hours to see what each property looks like.

This year 2,300 homes in the William Street area will be blitzed by volunteers dropping off information on how to keep up properties and stay out of housing court.

Members of the William Street Taxpayers, Doyle Hose Company No. 1, Boy Scouts, high school students and others will drop off packets April 8. They'll meet the week before to stuff the bags.

The packets will include information a homeowner or tenant needs to be a good neighbor: reminders to keep lawns mowed and gutters and windows repaired; telephone numbers for fire companies, town police and other departments; schools; crime prevention; and garbage and recycling details.

"I think everyone is passionate about their neighborhood," Kaznowski said.

That's why he's helping the William Street neighborhood this year. Two years ago, the Town Park Home Owners targeted the Town Park/Pine Hill area of town, distributing the packets on a Saturday morning. Last year it was the Harlem-Kensington-Cleveland and Cedar Grove Heights communities.

"Our goal is to get the whole western border," he said.

"We had a lot of residents participate in helping us deliver, we had more than enough," said Joan Adams, president of the Cedar Grove Neighborhood Action Committee.

She said neighbors told her the literature helped them figure out who in the town to call when they had a problem.

"I think it's great," she said.

"We all face the same issues," Kaznowski said.

With aging housing stock and an increase in absentee landlords, Cheektowaga is experiencing issues that can drag down neighborhoods and decrease property values. Houses fall into disrepair, and owners are unable or unwilling to improve them.

Kaznowski is hoping representatives from neighborhood groups can meet with town officials, including the town justices and housing inspectors, to agree on a strategy.

He said the blitzing seems to be effective.

"We've seen people clean up their property," he said.

Taxpayer groups also hope to spur the town to cite more properties, get the owners into court and ultimately clean up neighborhoods.


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