Is City Councilman William J. Pantele a slumlord? Some residents in Ginter Park say the label fits, pointing to a recent shooting a few doors down from a low-rent apartment complex that Pantele's family owns.
An exchange of gunfire Dec. 13 in the 4800 block of Chamberlayne Avenue near the Watkins Street intersection has highlighted a growing problem with neglected properties that have become a haven for drugs and prostitution, says Larry Meier, a retired IRS agent and block captain for the Ginter Park Residents' Association.
The Pantele property, 4828 Chamberlayne Ave., is a low-income apartment complex managed by Pollard & Bagby. Meier says it's in the thick of a growing crime zone.
"We need to, as a neighborhood, put pressure on these landlords to clean these places up," says Meier, who has been robbed twice in the last year while walking the neighborhood. "To me, that's the key for taking care of this stuff."
The "reckless exchange of gunfire" last week left one man with a hole in his leg, according to a police report. The shooting has drawn the attention of several detectives, and in a report to the neighborhood association, Lt. Tim Morley says the shooting is "likely connected to many of the complaints we have been working on in the area."
City Councilman Chris Hilbert, who represents the Ginter Park community, says it doesn't help that the family of fellow council member owns one of the properties.
"It's certainly not the worst house on the street; it's certainly not the best," Hilbert says. "I like Mr. Pantele, but I would have preferred that this property be in a little bit better shape than it's in."
Pantele says his family has been trying to sell the property, assessed by the city at $230,000, for the better part of a year. But he warns against lumping him and his family into the slumlord category.
"I suspect that the only reason this property is being talked about is for political reasons," Pantele says, noting that his property hasn't been the subject of any reported crime in the last year.
Pantele says he is, however, meeting with new property-management firms this week. "I am making a change in the management agent," he says, "because it seems to be part of what people want to see." S