113 Cromwell Comes Down
Neighbors are relieved after demolition wrapped up on the abandoned and mold-infested property.
After a long, drawn-out battle that played out over nearly a year, 113 Cromwell Ct. has finally been reduced to an open plot of land.
Not that the chain-link fence that still encloses it is particularly flattering, but most residents on the court would agree it beats a half-demolished, mold-infested house.
“We’ve been living beside a partially demolished house, we’re happy to have it gone,” said Theresa Bond, who's one of two neighbors who were directly next to the house.
The home was an eyesore and a thorn in the sides for the court's residents—and something of a potential danger, considering the home was completely infested with mold, thanks to a hole in the roof and numerous floods over the past several years.
“It’s been long, drug-out process,” said George Litsch, whose house sits on opposite side of the court from 113.
He called the entire process to demolish the house was “a three ring circus.” He said he remembers going to court and listening to the house's would-be savior, contractor Michael Crowley, speak for four hours—unsuccessfully—as to why the house should have been spared.
Litsch said he was in disbelief when he saw Crowley and a few teenagers stripping metal and copper from the home on Father’s Day, after Crowley reached an agreement with the township and demolition could go forward. Litsch also says that Crowley has really tried to portray himself as a man with the best interests of the community, but Litsch said that's not the case.
Litsch also went on to say that apart from being an eyesore, the mouldering home put out a foul stench across the court—though spring and summer were the worst times of the year for the smelll, it was always present.
“We are all pleased to see an end to the dispute,” said Maureen Compagnoni, who lives just off the court on Westwood Drive.
Compagnoni referred to 113 as the “over the hedge” house and said she's glad to see it gone, given concerns over break-ins or vandalism at the house. Compagnoni went on to say that another big concern was the debris from the house washing into neighbors' yards.
The home was abandoned by its former owners, Robert and Dorothy Schumann, about six years ago. Crowley had battled to save it since last fall, eventually gaining ownership of the property through a quit claim deed as part of a last-ditch effort to hold off the township from demolishing the property, arguing all the while he could rehabilitate the home.
But last month, Crowley and the township were able to reach an agreement following his suit against West Deptford. That deal allowed the township to continue to demolish the home, which had been condemned last summer.
Demolition restarted at the beginning of last week, and within days, it was down to a foundation hole, which was quickly filled in by the demolition company.
Now, it's nothing but an empty dirt lot.
“The conversation piece has died,” said Compagnoni.