Every time East Side residents turn around, they are reminded that they are a second-class constituency. These days, the most visible sign is the grassy wilderness that has been allowed to sprout on the vacant lots that checker the inner city.
As residents flee many parts of this community, the abandoned housing left behind has created an ever-greater burden on City Hall, which is increasingly responsible for maintaining these neglected and vacant lots. The city's policy of demolishing vacant and dilapidated houses keeps them from becoming firetraps and home to drug users, but it also adds to the land the city is responsible for keeping in shape.
Not surprisingly, as detailed by News reporter Susan Schulman on Thursday, the city has fallen behind. While that may be understandable, given the early spring this year, it is not acceptable.
No matter where a person lives in the City of Buffalo, he or she is entitled to a basic quality of life. That quality of life includes not being constantly reminded by overgrown lots that no one really cares about you because you don't live in a wealthier, more stable part of town.
City administrators should not have to be prodded to beef up their mowing schedule. They should be able to take a quick look around and realize they need to do better. They should recognize that their own aggressive demolition policies have side effects that need to be properly planned for. With 10,000 city-owned lots and countless more abandoned by private property owners, the Public Works Department should be well aware that a grass-cutting schedule that brings a mower by two or three time a year is simply insufficient.
We're not asking for golf-course trims. But when residents start having trouble seeing their own hips or finding their own kids when they step outside, some re-evaluation of how you're doing things is required.
We're glad new equipment has been purchased to help the city deal with this ongoing problem. We're disappointed, but not surprised, that it won't be available until July. Given the personnel and equipment costs associated with such a challenging problem, we encourage city leaders to do more brainstorming about how they can tackle this issue more efficiently and successfully. It may be wise, in fact, to gather some input and ideas from the neighbors who actually live there. If they're willing to lend a hand, the city would do well to encourage their assistance.
One way or another, though, something's got to change.