Where do I even begin to write this. My blog is usually about my fun adventures but for now it’s going to take a serious note and I’m going to talk about the houses in the area I call home.
This was once called the Rolling Mill Project but has since been turned into The Maryland Avenue Restoration Project or something to that effect. Either way Please read on..
My home was built for my Great Great Aunt as a Wedding present way back in 1897. Her Father bought the land an built the home that I am living in today. I have lived here on and off with my family from the time I was born and after losing my Parents in the late 90’s my Grandma gave me this home, with the promise that I would take care of it as best as I could. My Father battled cancer from 1994 to 1997 and a lot of the upkeep stopped, simply because he spent almost a year in the hospital and just couldn’t take care of it anymore.
After the home was signed over to me I started getting letters from the city in about 2006-07 telling me that my home was rundown. It didn’t meet the city codes. My front porch roof was falling down and it needed fixed. So I had a local Organization called Camp Hope that came in an helped me fix up my front porch. But afterward the the city comes again with more letters threatening fines up to 350.00 a day because I had Insulbrick on my home and it was a fire hazard. Under Cumberland standards it HAD to be fixed or I would be fined daily. I was a server at a local Golf Resort at the time. No one will give a server a loan based on their income. So after a few months I finally found a lower housing income project thanks to my Aunt and Uncle that could help me save my home. Keep me from more fines that I could never pay and make my house look pretty again. I had siding put on. Full electrical rewire, new roof and 22 brand new windows put on this house. Since then I also had a privacy fence installed around my yard. Redid the hardwood floors. Refinished the wood mouldings to their original state. Painting an various other remodeling as well. Brought everything up to meet the city’s standards. And they finally quit harassing me.
The First Remodel in 1971
This home is my rock the safe place I can go to when the world is not such a nice place. Like Linus has his blanket, I have my home. But now my Safe Haven is under fire along with 63 other homes.
To say we were all blindsided by this mess wouldn’t even touch it. Let me explain.. Back in April my next door neighbors were moving out. They informed me their landlord had told them the city was coming after the entire block of homes. I just figured it was some kind of rumor. I mean why would they be taking all of our homes? So I never really gave any of this much thought at all. May rolls around and I hear the LandLord was told they were taking his home because it was rundown and they were taking blighted properties. I inquired about this at the City Hall in July. I talked to the Mayor on Facebook and several city officials and they just replied that they had a bullseye on four homes in that area because they were eyesores. I found this odd but who am I to judge.
So now we’re on to the middle of August. One of my neighbors stops by to see if any city officials had been by to see me ? And then he preceeded to tell me that they were planning on taking all of our homes. HOW is this even possible? I own my home, my loan they basically made me get is always paid. So I take to Facebook and start asking questions. I messaged the Mayor he basically tells me to be ready their coming and to know what I need to leave. You have got to be kidding me. I talked to these same people less then a month before this Not one informed me that they had a bullseye on my home as well.
So after doing some research my friend who is a Real Estate Agent gives Sean Hershberger my number from the CEDC group and tells him to call me. Sean inforned her that he had already spoken to me. She then informed him that I had not spoken to anyone and he changed his words and said I was on the *To Call* list. So Sean then calls me and tells me there’s no need to stress or worry because they were not doing anything yet. However the city would probably be taking the homes for a project sometime in the future. I could go get my home Appraised and get back to him. Because IF they were to go through with this project they would offer me the Tax Assessment Value, which was only 30k and had dropped over $7,000 from last year. And a extra 5k for moving expenses. I was also informed that I lived in the highest crime area in the city. They had to start somewhere to clean it up and we were ground zero. I am not afraid to walk out of my house at 3am it’s not any worse then the rest of Cumberland at the moment. Or any other small town in the US for that matter. And his last statement to me was this “We do hope that you will stay in the Cumberland area”. Yes I think I will because I’m not giving you my home! NOTE: This was the only convo I have had with the CEDC or City Council an it took place on August 26th.
Now.. if you go back up and read I have only had my loan that the city basically forced me into getting for 8yrs now. They are trying to give me less then what I now owe on that loan. I pretty much have to pay them to leave my house and have nothing to show for it. So where does that leave me? Homeless. I invested in this home. One because I pretty much had to Avoid fines Two so I could secure my future an future family generations that may want to live here. Everything I have done and invested will now become either a parking lot or a strip mall that no one will visit. We have an entire downtown already full of empty buildings. I even tried contacting the Historical Society to help me but was told my home was on the *Wrong End* of the city.
I’m aware the Mayor went walking the neighborhood with a resident in the same situation on Ceclia Street an when they got to mine. The Mayor kept referencing back to 2007 when it was in their eyes blighted. My neighbors reply? This isn’t 2007 this is 2015 and she has a gorgeous home.
My home before the remodel in 2007
I also need to mention that this back porch that you see in the picture below has a detached summer kitchen. My Grandfather Joseph Koegel was one of the Founding Members of the Cumberland Outdoor Club. And that Organization started in this same summer kitchen. That may not mean anything to some. But to others it gives this house a little more history.
My Home after in 2015
There is nothing blighted about my Historic Old Family Home. I think she’s rather beautiful. But if the Cumberland City Council has their way it will be a parking lot by next summer. Help me #SAVEMYHOME
I ask this.. Where will I go with 30,ooo dollars? That’s if they forgive the loan I have with them. I’m 45 yrs old. Everything I have ever worked for has went into this place and I’m supposed to just except this an leave. What would you do?
Tonight I attended my first City Council meeting. I didn’t speak because I quite simply didn’t know what to expect. What I came away with? Was the fact that these council members do not care about who is living here or what they have to do in order to get our properties. Their intent is to Low Ball us an then bulldoze the land. Then flip it for a few million more. There was question’s asked. The replies? We can’t answer these questions. Why? When another resident asked how we would buy another home for 30k? The Mayor just shook his head with no reply. As I was leaving I was approached by this Sean Hershberger. The same Gentleman that had called me way back on August 26th. Saying Hi Susan, I spoke to you on the phone here is my card. So nearly 5mths later this happens. I simply walked out the door an said I Do Not wish to talk to you.
My life is currently a nightmare through no fault of my own