There was no escaping the juxtaposition of a beautiful spring day and a yard overflowing with a seemingly endless collection of items in stages of decay.
The yard on Union Avenue is the property of Marilyn Soscia. It has been the target of minimum housing complaints and Municipal Court hearings for years. After a court hearing during which Soscia was informed what she could keep in her yard and what the city considered debris, city Department of Public Works crews showed up yesterday to haul away the debris. By 9:30 they had already filled a 30-yard dumpster and brought in a second.
Soscia protested that some of the items being discarded were to have been left. She was indignant, especially because a lot of what was going had personal significance or she believed was of monetary value. She sought to stop crews from carrying off some items, such as a vintage lawn mower. In the case of the mower, she asked how she was going to keep her yard orderly if she didn’t have it. DPW director David Picozzi agreed and the crew wheeled it into Soscia’s backyard.
Throughout, police officer Benjamin Ross talked with Soscia. His tone was not threatening. He listened to her reasoning. He stopped her from interrupting the process. He was compassionate, yet firm.
Soscia is no stranger to the Beacon. Her property has been cited countless times and in interviews she has defended her right to keep what she wants in her yard and explained how she ended up with an unregistered motor vehicle – stuffed to the roof with items – and how everything will get straightened out soon. The neighbors have voiced their displeasure to the paper and complained how the property affects the neighborhood.
This is a touchy topic. How does the city determine what is junk? Who can say what someone believes is valuable is only worthy of the landfill?
In this case, the choices were not arbitrary or surprising. Soscia knew what she could keep and what had to go. She had the opportunity to remove the items she wanted to keep, but getting to this point has taken years. Maybe that’s not fair to the neighbors, and they can say this is long overdue, but the process has been followed and it has been fair. That’s as important as ensuring the rights of neighbors are protected, too.