Niagara Gazette

November 8, 2013

Buffalo Avenue resident heads outdoors to protest condemnation by the city

Buffalo Avenue resident heads outdoors to protest condemnation by the city

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A Buffalo Avenue resident is sleeping on his front lawn after the city condemned his house.

Jerald Skrlin, who has been working to turn the 167-year-old house once owned by Lavinia Porter into a museum for several years, said a city inspections department employee showed up at his house Thursday morning to condemn the house because the gas is not connected.

“I told the guy they are coming to turn the gas on this Sunday, but he didn’t care,” Skrlin said.

Skrlin missed the National Fuel representative scheduled to hook the gas up last weekend, he added.

So Skrlin began moving his furniture outside, setting up his kitchen table, his bed and a coat rack among the reds and oranges of the fall leaves scattered on his front lawn.

“I’m not trying to make a spectacle of myself or anything,” he said. “I have nowhere else to sleep.”

Skrlin, who has owned the house since 1999, has had a rocky relationship with the city’s inspecter, finding himself in housing court several times over the years.

He says that he is unfairly targeted by the city because he has complained about other property owners in the area.

“It’s malicious prosecution,” Skrlin said.

Louis Fontana, the code enforcement department’s project manager, did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

Skrlin said he is trying to fix up the historic house to save an important piece of the city’s history.

“I’m trying to make a museum out of this house,” Skrlin said. “I’m trying to do something for the city.”

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257