Editor's Note: A public records request regarding the Rolling Mill/ Maryland Ave Redevelopment Project provided documents indicating that negotiations and purchases of homes in the Rolling Mill neighborhood were being made as early as Spring 2015. A Cumberland Times-News article, which ran in the end of September, was the first many City residents, even residents of the Rolling Mill neighborhood, had heard of the City's plan. That story may not have run had Cecelia St resident Woody Gordon not approached a newspaper reporter with the story and asked him to investigate. Some aspects of this story were addressed in an earlier AppIndie story by the same author.
Where do I even start with 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 now it’s being called the Maryland Avenue Restoration project or something to that effect. Either way read on..
My home was built for my Great Great Aunt as a Wedding present way back in 1897. Her father bought the land and built the home that I am living in today. I lived here with my family and after losing my parents in the late 90s 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 if the upkeep got thrown to the side 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; it needed fixed. So I had a local organization called Camp Hope that came in and 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 and under Cumberland standards it HAD to be fixed or I would be fined daily. I was a server at a local Golf Resort, 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 my home-full electrical rewire, new roof and 22 brand new windows put on this house. And since then I also had a privacy fence installed around my yard. I redid the hardwood floors. I refinished the wood mouldings to their original state, paintindg an various other remodeling as well. And I brought everything up to meet the citys 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. And they told 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 and my loan they basically made me get is always paid. So I take to FB 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 too.
So after doing some research my friend who is a real estate agent gives someone my number that's in this group called the CEDC and tells them to call me. They told her that they had already talked to me, which was so far from the truth. So this man calls me and tells me there’s no need to stress or worry because they were not doing anything yet, but the city would probably be taking the homes for a project sometime in the future. I could go get my home appraisal and get back to them. Because IF they were to go thru with this project they would offer me the tax assessment which was only 30k and had dropped overy 7,000 from last year. And a extra 5k for moving expenses…I was also told that I lived in a crime ridden area, which pretty much sums up most of the Cumberland area. I am not afraid to walk out of my house at 3am it's not a bad area at all. And his last statement-- "but 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 converstaion I have had with the CEDC or City Council and it took place on August 26th [by phone.]
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 than what I now owe on that loan (according to the phone conversation.) 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, to avoid fines, and to secure my future and future family generations that may want to live here. Everything I have done and invested in will now become either a parking lot or a strip mall that no one goes to because 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 Cecelia Street and when they got to mine the Mayor kept referencing back to 2007 when it was in their eyes blighted. My neighbor's reply "this isn’t 2007 this is 2015 and she has a gorgeous home."
My home before the remodel in 2007
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 accept this and 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? 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. With the intent to lowball us and then bulldoze the land and flip it for a helluva lot more than they are willing to give us. There were question’s asked. The replies, "we can’t tell you." Everything was "We can’t tell you." 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 same guy that called me way back on August 26th. Saying "Hi Susan, I spoke to you on the phone here is my card." So nearly 5 months 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