BUTTE — Residents shared disturbing stories with the Butte Council of Commissioners on the problem of urban decay in their neighborhoods.
“I got out one morning in March to have a cup of coffee, step out on my front stairs for the morning cigarette and one of the women from the house across the street was defecating on the mine dump right there,” said Butte resident Scott Murphy.
The meeting room was packed Wednesday evening as several residents expressed concerns about the growing number of dilapidated houses and the criminal activity they've attracted. Some of these abandoned homes are in disrepair and no longer have electricity or water utilities.
Karrie West lives next to one of these homes and worries about transients going in and out of it.
“What’s it going to do when it finally collapses? If a squatter is in there and a fire gets out of control? What’s going to happen to my home? The smell in the summer of human feces and just the mold and mildew of that house I cannot keep my windows open,” said West.
Members of Citizens United Against Urban Decay want the city to go after the absentee homeowners who have let their homes fall into disrepair. They want them obligated to repair or demolish the structures. Residents claim these homes are used as hideouts for criminals.
“This neighborhood has had many long-term residents, elderly and disabled. These criminals are taking advantage of these people,” said Terri Johnson.
One resident of Belgrade who bought a house for his son in Butte said she was shocked by the amount of crime they’ve encountered in just a short time.
“We have an extremely large population in the Gallatin Valley and our crime is nothing compared to Butte,” said Dynise Ette.
Some residents blame Butte’s Community Enrichment Department for not following through with the abandoned house. Community Enrichment Director Ed Randall, who attended the meeting, had no comment on the situation.