By SHEILA THOMAS
Where are the priorities in the city of Dunkirk?
It seems as though having hedges too high is more important than the safety of our community. Those "privacy hedges" I have on a corner lot have caused me to be fined and threatened with a second fine if they are not cut to 4 feet.
These hedges, however, block my yard from the thieves who will now be casing everything I own. My privacy will now be gone. My window faces the sidewalk and anyone can see in. I moved here five years ago.
Since moving here, the hedges have grown while my home has been witness to these events:
I had a SWAT team attack the house behind me complete with assault rifles and hiding in my yard.
I have witnessed a street fight with neighbors throwing chairs at one another, and threatening shots.
A second drug bust, complete with SWAT team took place across from my residence, 5 feet from those hedges were more assault rifles and onlookers corralled around my house to watch.
I watched the animal control officer leave a ticket for an unlicensed dog tied out and abandoned for days next door to me. They did nothing else. I gave her food water and a blanket. She sat there for days before her owner came to get her.
Yards that back up to Leopard Street are full of debris, including standing water in the summer, clouds of mosquitoes, boards full of nails, trash piles that have literally been there for years and nameless junk thrown everywhere.
Trees are growing out into the street in summer. The end of Leopard is even worse. Dirt lawns and scattered piles of garbage, mostly boards or just plain filth, clothes, yard debris plastic bits and animal feces in nearly every yard.
Of the many things stolen from my yard - four so far - the police come, looking bored and took a report.
My right to privacy will now be stripped down to 4 feet, therefore leaving my home even more at risk - my possessions, my family and my pets. We cannot afford to move or we would be long gone. We cannot afford a fence or I would electrify it!
My home was supposed to be a neighborhood revitalization project.
There is no sense of community, no attempt at bringing Dunkirk into this century, no skating rinks, dog parks, spray pool for kids or recreation center.
I have lived with all - and none - of the above. My daughter will not walk our dogs in the neighborhood because she has been harassed by people. We keep to ourselves, and work in this city.
There are weeds and vines, small trees, and glass littering many streets. Homes with peeling paint and parties every night. There also are many decent people in my neighborhood and they suffer as well. There is no color or race to this, and I am actually fond of the diversity here. But some people have no consideration for others.
All these problems. But I have to cut my hedges. I guess that will make us all safer.
Sheila Thomas is a Dunkirk resident.