Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
Crews demolished a house at 934 Erickson Avenue in Whitehall on March 4. The owner, Emily Vigarito, 84, has not lived in the home that was built in 1929 for many years. After about four years of litigation, Environmental Judge Harland Hale ordered it destroyed.
Whitehall is ridding itself of blighted properties one house at a time, and in some cases, it’s been a long time coming.
On March 4 demolition crews tore down a house at 943 Erickson Avenue. The property is owned by Emily Vigarito, 84, who has not lived in the home for several years.
The 769 square-foot home was built in 1929, and Vigarito has owned it for over 40 years.
However, the elderly woman put up a fight in a standoff with the bulldozer, until she was removed by police officers, and taken to a local church. She was not arrested, but taken to the church to calm her.
Vigarito lives in an apartment, but was apparently spending some time at the home in a makeshift apartment in her shed during summer months. The house was covered with weeds and overgrowth. She continually left doors of the house open with bowls of food and water for stray cats.
Just prior to the demolition Service Director Ray Ogden walked through to make noise and search for cats so as not to crush any during the process. A couple were seen running from the house when crews began working.
A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said that the house has been a problem for about 15 years. The city has been diligently working for about four years to amend the problem, but had to go through the court system, which is a lengthy ordeal.
Neighbors complained of the stench of cat urine, especially on hot summer days. The neighbor was given humane traps by Franklin County Animal Control, and in a period of two years, caught 62 cats, most of them ill and diseased, which were turned over to the county.
He also said that the feeding practices has brought vermin to the neighborhood, including raccoons and possums. Cats bred several litters in the house over the years.
Neighbors are relieved to see a resolution to the issue, and are looking forward to spending time outside this summer in their yards odor-free.
They said that Vigarito was a nice woman, and maybe had good intentions trying to save stray cats, but the situation got out of control for her and those living around her.