If you've spent much time on the 1100 block of Cornell then you know the house at 1111. This is the long neglected home that our family calls "The Stair House" due to its front stairs being so crooked that one gets seasick just looking at them. Inhabiting the home is Wally, an elderly gentlemen who you can see shuffling to get his daily cup of coffee most mornings. If you stop and speak with him he will pleasantly tell you about last night's news or maybe the weather. The conversation never gets much deeper however and one quickly surmises that Wally's mental capacity is limited at best. When asked who else lives with him he is quick to answer that he lives alone. Though completely harmless and nearly always cheerful, one is left to wonder how exactly Wally is able to care for himself. Suddenly the condition of the property begins to make sense.
This alone is really none of my/our business. We have all dealt with issues of senility and this is a private issue best left to the family. The purpose of this post is not to demonize Wally. In fact, the purpose is to begin a dialog that may in fact him help because I suspect something is rotten in the state of Albany and it is our duty as neighbors (and humans) to help those who are unable to help themselves.
What is of concern in terms of 1111 Cornell is the endless parade of shady characters who frequent the property at all hours of the day and night. Anyone who has spent any time on Cornell knows that this is no exageration. Though I am loathe to profiling of any type whether it be based on race, age, or socioeconomic status one can only describe these folks as appearing to be transients. They do not appear to be residents of the property (as confirmed by Wally).
When one looks at them they quickly avert their glances as if they have something to hide. They always come on makeshift vehicles hauling junk which is often dumped on the lawn for all to see. A month or so ago I passed by to see a distraught man in his twenties with no shirt pacing in front of 1111. He appeared to be yelling at nothing while a pit-bull meandered agitatedly in front of him with no leash. Knowing how many children live at that end of the street (and near the Darmouth & Cornell intersection), it was the first time I was sincerely frightened for the safety of all of the families on that side of the block. One can only imagine what goes on inside the house but it is clear that something unsavory is happening at 1111 Cornell. At the very least it appears to be a magent for individuals who have no regard for our community. My initial suspicion was that it may be acting as a sort of "Safe House" for the undesriables that seem to frequent the property.
Perhaps you feel this is alarmist and I am being unfair. I can certainly understand why. I am throwing around a lot of accusations here with no evidence. So I decided to do a little googling and it didn't take long to find this:
We can see that as recently as 07/21/2010 a sex offender on probation was staying at this home illegally. This is to say a convicted felon was hiding out at 1111 Cornell Ave while on probation without letting the local police know. I'd say this leads credence to the "safe house" theory but I will leave that for you to decide. Certainly sex offenders have rights and all people deserve a second chance. My issue here though is that this person appears to have been hiding there.
As I've paid more attention to the traffic on Cornell I have recently discovered something even more disturbing. Many of these characters appear to go between 1111 Cornell and the home at 1244 Cornell on the Berkeley side of the street (near the church). I noticed this a few weeks ago as I saw one of the transients I recognized from 1111 pull into 1244 with his trailor in tow. Since that time I have noticed steady traffic between these two homes. They seem to be hauling goods between the two properties. The plot thickens. What exactly is going on in our little community?
I'm posting on the Patch today for us to begin a dialog about this situation. I do not want to start a witch hunt here. I have no solid proof nor have I been a victim of any crime associated with either address. However, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to put two and two together here. Something is going on and we have reason to be concerned. To be specific, here are my concerns:
* Wally claims to live alone at 1111 Cornell yet there is an endless string of transients entering and leaving the home. When one considers Wally's mental facilities and the link posted above, one worries Wally may be a victim here. Is he being taken advantage of by these people? Does he have the facilities to properly control who is entering his property as the sole resident?
* What is the connection between 1111 and 1244 Cornell? There is a steady stream of non-residents hauling junk between these addresses. Are they selling or trading goods illegally? Shouldn't we be concerned that, on the off chance there is something illegal happening here, that our families could be caught in the crossfire?
* Doesn't the condition of 1111 Cornell pose a risk to the adjacent properties? If I was any of the neighbors I would have serious concerns for what might happen in an earthquake or other disaster as 1111 looks to be teetering on its last legs.
* Why do the Albany Police seem oblivious to this situation? We live in a small community that prides itself on safety, transparency and dialog. Yet there is a dilapdated flophouse hosting all sorts of undesirables right in the open that sticks out like a sore thumb. Why does everyone seem to notice except the Police?
Let's begin discussing the situation here. We have a wonderfully strong and understanding community but we cannot stand idly by and wait for a disaster to happen before speaking up. We clearly cannot depend on the Police to get to the bottom of the situation so we must turn to each other as we always have. Something is rotten in the state of Cornell and we need to get to the bottom of it before, not after, something bad actually happens.