By ALISSA SCOTT
Abandoned properties and absentee landlords were among the major concerns expressed by residents of the 1st and 3rd wards during an informal meeting at City Hall Monday.
About 50 homeowners packed into the council chambers and about a dozen made it to the podium to voice their gripes and suggestions.
First Ward Alderman Edward Russo, 3rd Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr., Mont-gomery County District 8 Legislator John Duchessi and Montgomery County District 6 Legislator Joseph Isabel sat before the group to answer questions.
Also in the audience were 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzen-buhler, 5th Ward Alderman Rich-ard Leggiero and Mayor Ann Thane.
Debra Baranello of Division Street asked about furniture left at the curb.
"It looks awful bad when you're coming into the city," Baranello said. "I though there was an ordinance passed to not have them on the street."
Hatzenbuhler said there is an ordinance instructing residents to contact DPW to have it removed after paying $10. Anthony Leggiero, foreman of the city's Department of Public Works, said he will start noting those properties that have furniture laying outside for extended periods of time.
Thane said they will be fined.
Leggiero also announced the blacktop plant opened and crews will fill potholes beginning Wednesday.
He also advised people to sweep the sand piles in front of their homes and then contact DPW for removal. Because the city ran out of salt about three-quarters of the way through the season this year, DPW had to increase the sand in the mixture. As a result, there is much more than usual left on the streets.
With all the talk of dilapidated properties and blight throughout the city, Diane Smith addressed the aldermen and legislators about grant writing and keeping up with city parks.
"Have you ever looked into the possibility of corporate sponsorships?" Smith asked. "We could have them sponsor activities for the children like parks and as we tear down the dilapidated properties, we can start building community gardens."
She said it would be a great way to teach children about where food comes from and about business and accounting.
Near the end of the meeting, Thane addressed a couple of concerns raised.
She said the city has been working very hard with code enforcement to control blighted properties.
"We have taken down 100 dilapidated apartments in the past five to six years," she said. "But there are so many and that's the problem we're facing."
To demolish one building, it can cost between $20,000 and $40,000.
"I know it's increasingly frustrating when you live next to a property like that, but you don't take them down for free," Thane said. "It's a big problem and we're continuing to work with that."
Thane said the foreclosure list, which may have as many as 500 properties on it, is still a project city controller Matthew Agresta is working on. It stalled three years ago when the city moved from one accounting system to another, personnel changed, and the previous controller died in office.
She hopes the list will be complete by the end of summer into early fall.
Hatzenbuhler will hold a 4th Ward meeting Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m.