Exasperated Reader Tommy Myers lives on 50th Street, a tidy working-class street where most folks seem to take good care of their property.
Myers has an immaculate yard, which includes a healthy fig tree in the back and a neatly trimmed lawn. But just across the property line in the back are some problems.
"I have a patch of woods in back of my property that has two rotten pine trees. Limbs from these trees fall in my yard and some on my storage house," he wrote. "I don't know who owns this property, but I would like to have these two trees cut down."
I called Public Works Director Pat Biegler, whose department includes the urban forestry division. But I was pretty sure I already knew that this wasn't going to be a city function, because the trees are on private property and all they're threatening is other private property.
"That's a civil matter between two private entities," Biegler said. "So,
it would be necessary for him to deal with the owner of the other property."
Unless it threatens the public, it's a private matter, in other words.
I confirmed this assessment with a lawyer friend, who suggested that Myers send a register letter to the property owner.
"I'd send a certified letter putting them on notice about the dead trees," he said and offered some wording: "Your vacant lot abuts my property and there are several dead pine trees on your property. I've had dead limbs fall on my property and I'm afraid these trees may fall. I request that you examine the situation and let me know how you want to proceed."
But Myers doesn't know who owns the property. I guess some legwork is the least I could do if all I could offer is advice instead of action.
According to city records, the strip of land is owned by a limited liability corporation. A check with the Secretary of State's office revealed the name and address of the registered agent and a Nexis search got me her phone number.
I gave Myers the info I'd garnered and wished him luck. We'll check back with him to see if the property owners will do the right thing.
So as not to go away empty-handed this week, while I had Biegler on the phone, I told her about a problem noticed by an Alert Columnist we'll call Mike.
A year or so ago, a reader told me about how the roadside foliage along Primrose Road near Gentian Elementary had overgrown onto the sidewalk and was forcing kids into the road.
Biegler sent a crew out and they went Old Testament on the growth, to the point that it still hasn't grown back onto the sidewalk. Except in one place, where it's almost completely blocked it off.
She said she'd have a crew look into it this week.
I got a nice note from Hugh Busby, who had asked for help with a burned-out house across the street from his.
"Just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate what you did for us last week. Your article last Monday about the property on Buckhorn Drive brought quick results.
"I cut the grass again last Monday, but then someone (likely from the real estate company) showed up on Tuesday and cut it again, and as I write this letter, at 4 p.m. Monday they are here cutting the grass again.
"I just can't say thank you enough, you sure know how to get results. Thanks again for all your help for the many people in Columbus."
Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 708-571-8570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.