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Woman seeks reprieve for Dade City house

Yvonne Trueblood Barker’s father built this home on Tuskeegee Avenue in Dade City in 1960 as rental property, but it has fallen into disrepair since his death.

HELEN ANNE TRAVIS | Times

Yvonne Trueblood Barker’s father built this home on Tuskeegee Avenue in Dade City in 1960 as rental property, but it has fallen into disrepair since his death.

DADE CITY — The beige home has no roof, no interior walls and a small tree growing out of the concrete floor where the bathroom once stood.

The city wants to demolish the building. Yvonne Trueblood Barker, 55, wants to save it.

Her father built the Tuskeegee Avenue home in 1960 as rental property. He died in 1998. About five years later, the last tenant moved out and the house slowly crumbled away.

Barker daydreamed with her son and daughter, both in their 30s, about fixing up the home and renting it out again. She bought the home and two others on the lot from her mother for $10 in 2007, according to county records.

"It was just a sentimental thing for me and my children," she said.

But the dreams never materialized, and in April, Barker received a certified letter from the city stating that the house was unsafe and needed to be demolished.

Tonight, she will ask the Dade City commission not to tear down her father's home.

"I feel very sad," Barker said Monday. "But then I also have to realize that it was my procrastination that got me here."

Barker lives about 2 miles away from the shell of a house and works full time for the state. She also moonlights at Wal-Mart and takes care of her 84-year-old mother.

When it came time to fix up her father's old house, Barker always had something else to do.

"I kept saying, 'We got time,' " she said. "We didn't have as much time as we thought."

The years passed.

About three months ago, city officials spotted the dilapidated building.

In Dade City, a home usually qualifies for demolition if the estimated cost of repairs are more than half the building's value after the repairs are performed. For the home on Tuskeegee Avenue, the decision to demolish was easy.

"There's nothing left but four walls and a concrete slab," said Robert Youmans, Dade City's building official.

He doesn't have an estimate for the cost of repairs necessary to bring the home up to code, but he imagines it would be "astronomical."

Barker said she's ready to pay for all the repairs, or the cost of the demolition if that's the commission's decision. For her, the important thing is keeping the plot of land.

No matter what happens, Barker says she does not regret buying the home from her mother 11 years ago.

"Even if it's decided that it has to be knocked down, the property still belongs to my family," she said. "It's something my mother and father owned. I have no regrets. I will cherish that land."

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6518.

Woman seeks reprieve for Dade City house 06/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 1:46pm]
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[Times file photo]