Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Carrollwood Village residents clean up shabby yard of vacant home


Bill Wares was heading out for coffee when he paused in front of a long-vacant house a few doors from his own. In the months since foreclosure suits were filed at the county courthouse, the home's landscaping had gone brown and shaggy with neglect.

But on Saturday, while the morning was still cool, the place on Carrollwood Village Drive was an anthill of activity. Neighbors pulled weeds, chopped down dead shrubs, trimmed hedges, raked leaves and yanked long, ropy vines from a pair of sturdy oaks in the front yard.

They needed trash bags, though. So minutes later, Wares returned on his bike with a roll of jumbo heavy-duty bags.

"This is the greatest thing," he said, handing them over.

"This is the first of many," said organizer Jennifer Fritch.

This time last year, Fritch and Libbie Jae were leading the opposition to new speed humps in Carrollwood Village. One of their biggest complaints was that the scores of new traffic signs put up near the speed humps cluttered the neighborhood, lowering property values.

After that controversy cooled down, they looked around and saw that vacant and abandoned houses were doing the same thing. Carrollwood Village Phase I alone has about two dozen homes in some stage of foreclosure, they said.

So they put up four signs around the neighborhood asking for volunteers to neaten up the yard of the home at 4414 Carrollwood Village Drive. While the association pays to have the yards mowed and edges trimmed, that doesn't extend to taking care of overgrown shrubs, spreading vines or fallen branches.

Saturday's cleanup was an all-volunteer effort. Because of concerns over liability, it wasn't sponsored by the homeowners association, but it wasn't discouraged, either.

"This is what we call a grass roots neighborhood project," said Jennifer Kirschman, who is on the association board for Phase I and chairs its new ideas committee. "Everyone's delighted that it's happening."

Bank of America has filed two foreclosure suits on the home, saying that mortgages totaling $412,500 went into default in 2008. The home has a market value of $235,500, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser. The homeowner, Carol J. Cunningham, 57, could not be reached for comment by press time.

But as neighbors worked on Saturday, several residents said they knew the family who had lived at the two-story home. They remembered the kids, the big, friendly dog named Buddy and the family's attempts to keep up and sell the house even as the economy tanked.

It's sad, they said, but the continuing wave of foreclosures underscores the need for neighbors to come together to take care of their communities.

Fritch said she got about 10 volunteers just by putting up four signs. For the next cleanup, she said she planned to tap her list of speed-hump opponents.

And Wares sounded ready to sign up.

"This is just what we need," he said. "It's pretty amazing that people got together and did this themselves."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Carrollwood Village residents clean up shabby yard of vacant home 04/29/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 3:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  2. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  3. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  4. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  5. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion


    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.