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What You Gonna Do With All That Junk? All That Junk Inside the Properties You Might Not Actually Own?

By Margaret Lyons in News on Nov 16, 2007 5:50PM

John Waters: Junk hoarder? Slum lord? Con man? (No, not that John Waters.) This Waters is an 80-year-old lousy neighbor who created a giganto junk house on the 4200 block of Melvina. The folks who lived around the trash heap (sadly not an oracle) were less than thrilled.

James Parker, who lives next door, kept a close eye on Waters and even documented the junk man's movements with a point-and-shoot camera. Kopka called the cops and pleaded with Ald. Tom Allen (38th) to help. The Smyser School principal and folks on the block stood up, too.

With Allen's help, they got city building inspectors to cite Waters for code violations, then showed up at Housing Court almost once a month for two years to make sure Waters didn't get off the hook.
"We weren't going to let him wear us down," Parker says. "When you live in a neighborhood, that's what you do. You stand up for each other."

After years of pleading, residents finally succeeded last month in having the house torn down. But the story doesn't end there.

Ald. Allen--the video above is a campaign commercial--called for an investigation into all of Waters's holdings, and lo and behold, the Waters owns at least 20 properties, all of which "were junked up." And some of which he only sort of maybe owns. Waters has been charged felony forgery for allegedly falsifying property documents, and Allen says Waters preys on elderly homeowners who can't pay their property taxes. Waters says he's "helping."

This has brought back memories of this earworm of a camp song.