Tip List received an e-mail this week from a person concerned about the condition of an abandoned office building at 722 W. 22nd St.
The author of the e-mail feared that the property was on the verge of slipping into irreparable blight.
"This once beautiful corner is now a disgrace! Whoever is responsible should be ashamed of themselves," the author said.
First, a car blocks a driveway. Next, it's an overflowing garbage can. Then, like the 1950s horror classic, "The Blob," it spreads throughout the neighborhood until the quality disintegrates.
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It's doubtful that all of the buildings in the neighborhood will follow suit, considering that one of them belongs to the Merced Police Department.
But consider this column 722 W. 22nd St.'s intervention.
I drove out to the building Wednesday to take a peek.
The all-wood facade showed definite signs of weathering and wear. The wood shingles were chipped and cracked. Cobwebs covered the doors and windows, and plants grew so tall they obscured parts of the building.
The office was occupied by the Merced County Department of Environmental Health until March of this year.
A paper sign still hung on the glass door indicating that the organization moved and offering a number to call.
I called the Merced County Environmental Health Department to find out who owns the property. Tammy Moss Chandler, director of Public Health, said the county owns the building and it's their Department of Public Works job to make sure the building is maintained.
Chandler said she wasn't sure what the county's plan for the building is, but she said she's heard officials have been looking into different possibilities.
Because of budget cuts, the Department of Environmental Health consolidated its office and moved to its main building at 260 E. 15th St., Chandler said.
I called Mike Conway, the city spokesman, to see what he had to say about the building.
After he drove by 722 W. 22nd St., he agreed that the building looked shabby, but he said it didn't look bad enough to be a public nuisance.
If it did become a public nuisance, Merced County agencies would then be the responsible party.
What's wrong: The building that used to house the Merced County Department of Environmental Health looks shabby.
Who's responsible: The county owns the building, so the Department of Public Works is responsible for the building's care.
If you see something broken or in need of repair in your neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Jamie Oppenheim, with your tips at (209) 385-2407 or e-mail email@example.com.