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Send us photos of abandoned houses, like this one in Lanesborough. We’ll report on how they got that way

Lanesborough blight.jpg

The town of Lanesborough has set a May 28 deadline for this house, at 310 North Main St., to be demolished, after determining that it poses a threat to public safety. 

Abandoned houses. They can be found around the Berkshires, hollow-eyed and bereft, like the property at 310 North Main St. in Lanesborough with a hole in its roof and a collapsing foundation.

Given the shortage of homes for sale, how did these properties go astray?

The Eagle is inviting readers to send us photos of seemingly abandoned houses. We will check property records to determine who owns them — as well as what, if anything, town officials are doing about these properties.

Send horizontal photos to news@berkshireeagle.com, with “House” in the subject line. Include the property’s address and any other information available.

Often, seemingly abandoned properties are tied up in Land Court disputes, as communities move to recover unpaid taxes.

Some, like the house in Lanesborough that had been owned by the late Sidney and Edith Kurlan, are believed to pose risks to public safety.

The town has given the couple’s son, who lives in California, until May 28 to demolish the structure. That order came after Lanesborough officials held a public hearing April 25 to determine “whether the property … is a nuisance to the neighborhood or dilapidated and dangerous, and if found to be so, to prescribe its disposition, alteration or regulation.”

That prescription? That the old home be knocked down.

The town’s health agent and building inspector reported findings – and the forlorn blue structure, visible on a rise to the east of Route 7 just north of Lanesborough center, was determined to be a public safety problem.

“It was determined that the Property … is dilapidated and dangerous and creates a significant risk to children, first responders and the public at large,” according to a legal notice. “The Town's witnesses testified that there are currently holes in the roof of the structure, [that the] floors and wall are collapsing and the structure is caving in on itself.”

Edith Kurlan died without a will in June 2013. She had been living in Bernardsville Borough, N.J. In 2018, Matthew K. Kurlan was appointed as the estate’s representative by the probate court – and is now the person the town is ordering to arrange for the old home’s demolition.

Even the mayor agrees blight is a major problem for North Adams, so why are residents still looking at these abandoned properties?

The Kurlan family bought the property in 1969 from William F. and Margaret M. Girard, land records show.

The property had been the subject of a land-taking in 1998, based on unpaid 1997 taxes of $6,662, including interest, according to land records.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

Managing editor for innovation

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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