Abandoned lot with decaying trees in Argentine District troubles WWII veteran who takes pride in his home

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. --It was nearly 90 degrees outside, but even in the heat Victor Hernandez was hard at work with a weed eater edging his lawn. Ninety also happens to be the age of Hernandez, a World War II Army veteran.

"I have to quit pretty quick or I get dehydrated," Mr. Hernandez said, wiping his forehead.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers first met Mr. Hernandez a week earlier when he called us concerned about an abandoned lot next to his home in Kansas City, Kansas' Argentine District.

The city recently paid to demolish a decaying house on the property that a tree limb landed on causing even more damage. Mr. Hernandez worries that his home could be the next one hit.

"Every year some of those trees don't survive," Hernandez said. "They are just dead. Half of those branches are dead in there."

Mr. Hernandez takes a lot of pride in his home where he has lived since 1927, the year he was born.

"It was all different then," Hernandez said as he pointed to the surrounding neighborhood. "We had nothing but houses here."

But then came the 1951 flood. It destroyed much of the Argentine Neighborhood. After the waters cleared, Hernandez' home was one of only three still standing on his block. Mr. Hernandez bought the house from his father and raised his family there. He took a job right across the street, working for the railroad.

Today the majority of Mr. Hernandez' neighbors are salvage yards. That's just another reason Mr. Hernandez takes such pride in making sure his own property is always neat and tidy, and it's why he's so upset about the abandoned lot next door.

"My concern is trash," he said. "This is trash. If I had this in my yard they would be fining me."

The property owner died two years ago. KCK's Unified Government has become the owner by default. KCK officials were sympathetic to Mr. Hernandez' complaints. They used taxpayer money to clear the property, removing tons of brush and trash.

But Mr. Hernandez remained worried about the site's tallest tree crashing into his own house.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers asked the city about removing the tree, but it said it couldn't justify spending even more money on an abandoned lot. So we called a private tree service. The owner agreed to trim the tree for free. But a few days later, Mother Nature did the work for him.

The tree was felled by Saturday's storm. It didn't fall on Mr. Hernandez' home (as he had feared) but stayed within the confines of the abandoned lot -- taking out a power line on the way down.

The city should remove it soon. Then Mr. Hernandez will finally be able to relax in to what for him is still a little peace of paradise.