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A burned-out home on Highcrest Drive is a pile of rubble after the city of Medford demolished it this week. The house has stood abandoned since it burned a year and a half ago. - Jim Craven

Eyesore comes down at last

Neighbors are celebrating the demolition of a burned-out home that had turned into a nuisance on posh Highcrest Drive in east Medford.

"My view has improved, and I hope it stays like that," said neighbor Julie Kokinakes Anderson.

The city of Medford is paying $16,580 to have the two-story house torn down by Hughes Bros. Construction, which also will punch holes in the swimming pool and fill it with gravel. Work began this week. A lien on the property will allow the city to recoup the expense when sold.

Anderson, 37, has had a view from above the house that was ruined when a fire tore through its roof in October 2007. The foundation already was cracking and the owners didn't rebuild. What remained was a house with a gaping hole in its roof that allowed rain to pour in.

Neighbors had numerous concerns about the property. There were reports of cars pulling into the driveway late at night. "My cat started bringing a lot of rodents home," said Anderson. Parents worried that children could get hurt if they went inside the house.

Anderson's neighbor, Bob Cole, drained the pool, which was full of stagnant water, she said. Cole also temporarily took in Greg and Diana Short and their 15-year-old daughter after they lost their home.

A report prepared by fire investigators determined the blaze was most likely started intentionally. Initially, fire investigators suspected the chimney had cracked, allowing flames to enter the attic. However, an analysis of the chimney ruled out that theory.

As time passed, and nothing was done to repair the house, neighbors became alarmed, worried about property values and vandals in an area where many of the homes have stunning views of the valley below.

"I called the city and said this is getting a bit ridiculous," Anderson said.

The house was boarded up, and the city researched what needed to be done to start the demolition.

"We spent months trying to abate this issue," said Councilman Bob Strosser.

He said the city waded through a legal morass to get rid of a house that he didn't think was appropriate in any neighborhood in Medford.

After receiving complaints from neighbors last year, Strosser said he decided to take a look himself.

"I went up, parked in the driveway, walked around, and I was disgusted," he said. "If something is an eyesore, a nuisance or a rat haven or I don't care what is, we don't want it."

Chris Reising, the city's building and safety director, said the city didn't find any evidence that anyone had lived in the abandoned house. However, Reising said, the house was becoming an increasing nuisance that was aggravating the neighborhood.

"They have been very patient up there, and we appreciate it," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.

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