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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

EVEN WITH THE offending letters electronically blurred out, it’s easy to figure out what Roscoe resident John Hickey is trying to say with this sign at his Miller Heights Road home.

Neighbors' Lands
A S---hole?

By Jeanne Sager
ROSCOE — August 29, 2003 – John Hickey is taking matters into his own hands.
After 19 years as a homeowner on Miller Heights Road, the Roscoe resident is sick to death of the view out his front window, the sights he sees on his drive around the block.
So a few weeks ago, he put up a sign:
“Nice House, Nice Lawn, So Why Must We Look At a S---hole?”
That pretty much sums up how Hickey is feeling these days.
When he purchased his home, the neighborhood had a few blights but was generally a clean, nice place to live.
Hickey and wife Pat have worked on their own home over the years – they put up a new roof, replaced the old windows, made a few changes.
When John has a day off, you’re likely to find him in the backyard painting trim or mowing the lawn.
“My wife works very hard on the garden,” he added.
But not everyone has the same idea about housework. There are homes on Miller Heights Road where giant spots of paint are missing. There are junked cars in the lawns of some of Hickey’s neighbors.
There is debris strewn in the yards, overgrown weeds and gardens that could use a whole lot of tender loving care.
Hickey doesn’t want to have to move. He grew up in Roscoe. He likes Roscoe.
“It’s quiet, it’s small,” he noted.
Besides, whether gambling comes to Sullivan County or not, whether real estate prices continue to skyrocket or bottom out, he doesn’t think he can find anyone to buy his house.
“No one wants to come up here and look at this,” Hickey explained.
He’s complained to the Town of Rockland board in the past, but to no avail.
“I hate to jump on the town, but people need to take pride in their house,” he said, “take pride in your neighborhood.
“My mother always had a motto, ‘Soap and water are cheap,’” Hickey said. “A little elbow grease is all it takes.”
Hickey doesn’t want to be considered a “dictator,” but the sign isn’t coming down until he sees some action, until things start looking the way he wants his community to look.
There are about 15 houses on Miller Heights Road. One was sold recently to some folks from New York City, and they’ve done a lot of renovation work.
Others are still owned by the folks who were mowing their lawns and watering their flowers when Hickey moved in – at many of those homes, even those owned by senior citizens who have to hire someone to complete the chores, things are still looking pretty nice.
“A lot of people do take care of things, but some don’t,” Hickey said. “We do a lot of work, my wife and I.”
Town of Rockland Building Inspector Charles Irace said Hickey does keep his own property “spotless,” but Miller Heights hasn’t really been much of a problem in the past.
Irace was on the road in July to give one of Hickey’s neighbors a violation for junked cars and garbage that needs to be cleaned up.
That property is still in violation, he said, and they will be called into court.
Irace said he understands neighbors get frustrated, but in the time it took Hickey to make and put up a sign, he could have called the town.
“He’s got to let us know,” he said.
Hickey still has concerns, however.
He would still like to see the unfinished projects on the street get finished. He’d like to see someone power wash their siding once in a while, or buy some cheap paint at the hardware store and slap a coat on their front porch.
Since the sign went up, he’s seen a little bit of action.
“Minute things,” Hickey noted. “But I’m still waiting for progress.”
The neighbors haven’t said much, Hickey said. If anything, the biggest response has come from other Town of Rockland residents who have heard about the sign and taken a ride up through the cul de sac off of Old Route 17 in Roscoe.
“I’ve seen a lot more traffic,” Hickey said with a laugh. “There have been people honking, giving me the thumbs-up, taking pictures.”

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