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STRUTHERS Apts. promptprotest



Published: Thu, June 21, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The building, located on Spring Street, is leaving neighbors feeling down in the dumps.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

STRUTHERS -- Some residents living near the Spring Street Apartments are calling it the city's dirty little secret.

The apartments, with peeling peach and brown paint and some stray tires, look out of place among mostly well-maintained homes.

If nothing else, the complex looks in need of cosmetic work and garbage removal -- but neighbors say there's more to it than meets the eye.

Christine Kukura and her family rented a home next to the complex but moved out in March.

She said years of loud disturbances, violence, garbage and occasional drug overdoses were too much to bear -- especially for her children.

Kukura and her husband had the option to buy the home and said no way. They moved to nearby Sexton Street. Their rental home is now vacant.

"This embarrasses us as well as everyone else," said Kukura. "We want it condemned and torn down."

Police Chief Robert Norris said there have been 26 calls for service at the apartments this year.

Although the Kukuras were able to move, their neighbor, JoAnn Kidd, owns her home and said nobody will buy it as long as the apartments stand.

She said police visit continually, and she doesn't feel comfortable having people over for cookouts.

Rats, which Kidd blames on garbage and rubble piled up behind the complex, are also a concern. Her husband fills any holes in the yard with rat poison.

The ladies say they have gone through the proper authorities: The county board of health, Environmental Protection Agency, Mahoning County sheriff and city officials -- but without much resolution. So they called every press outlet they could.

Safety Service Director John Sveda said he cited the complex for building, debris and occupancy violations.

The owner: Kim Stocker, who has owned the apartments since 1997, pleaded innocent to the code violations April 6 and to the occupancy violation May 17, but no trial date has been set.

Stocker is the ex-wife of Councilman Terry Stocker, D-4th, but Mayor Dan Mamula said the relationship has never influenced council or city officials. "You can't just condemn something because you don't like it," said Mamula.

He explained that 60 percent of the building must be beyond repair to be declared condemned.

Mamula also said each apartment unit requires its own occupancy permit, which means the complex is not judged as one unit.

But Kukura, Kidd and others say they will not back down on the issue, for their benefit and that of Spring Street Apartment residents -- none of whom would comment.




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