Ken Trank had a front row seat this morning on his own porch. The 86-year-old veteran nibbled on some toast as he watched a demolition crew slowly take down the zombie property next door that had caused him so many headaches.
“It’s great. It really is," said Trank, bundled in a coat on an unusually chilly June morning in the Chautauqua County hamlet of Forestville.
Trank and his family placed numerous phone calls over the years trying to get someone to do something about the crumbling Main Street structure. The owner Steven LeBaron, according to someone familiar with him, found the building was in such bad shape he could not afford to repair it. He apparently left it and the structure was foreclosed on.
In the following years, a large cavity developed in the wall of the abandoned structure facing Trank's home. As decay widened the hole to eventually encompass a third of the entire wall, Trank began to worry about the safety of his home, just a driveway away.
“It’s exactly why I haven’t done anything with my porch because I was like, what if that wall falls and takes out the porch? I’m out the money,” said Trank.
But after years of inaction, Trank's son-in-law approached 2 On-Your-Side about the crumbling building. In March, we did a story.
Trank believes that story made a difference.
"All of a sudden, we got some action. And you think to yourself why would that happen? Well, how ‘bout Channel 2?” said Trank.
Whatever the inspiration, the decision to knock the building down came quickly starting on Tuesday. Tom Gould, the building inspector for the Town of Hanover, spotted the remains of the deteriorating wall of the abandoned property, which was shifting away from the frame. Fearing a collapse at any moment, Gould contacted county officials, who looped in state officials and it was decided to order an emergency demolition.
With these kinds of troubled properties, once stabilized, they are usually offered to a neighbor. Tranks said he was asked if he wanted to purchase the plot. He declined.
"I have enough yard to mow already," he said with a smile.