To Look Good is to Feel Good

Legislating civic pride is a tall order, and while it may ultimately prove true that it simply cannot be done, a virtual conveyor belt of civil penalties and fines can be meted out until citizens at least give the appearance that they care. Fairfield County is bound to have their hands full for some time to come, even when their roster of code enforcement officers reaches its capacity. After all, 710 square miles is a lot of territory to cover, and their work has just begun. But 3.2 of those square miles will soon be covered by the Town of Winnsboro, which last week made public its intentions to hire a full-time code enforcement officer.

Considerable and (we believe) deserved criticism has been hurled at the Winnsboro Town Council in the past for exercising the kind of hands-off approach to code enforcement that has allowed their beautiful little borough to lie fallow for a generation or more. The Streetscape projects of a decade or more ago were lost opportunities to really give the town a true facelift, and the red bricks and new traffic signals are overshadowed by the peeling façades and cracked glass on storefronts all up and down Congress Street. Is the economy tough right now? Sure it is. But just because downtown has a lot of empty buildings doesn’t mean it has to look like Berlin, circa 1945.

Perhaps one of the biggest eyesores in the county is the spooky gray house on the right as you drive into town on South Congress Street. Broken chimney and all, it looks like something straight out of the imagination of Charles Dickens. If you drive by slowly enough and look carefully, you might even see the shadow of an old woman peering through the upstairs window, cobwebs in her hair, wearing a wedding gown from 1925.

A property like that might come in handy during the annual Ghost Walk, but it’s not a very appealing introduction to your home town.

A legitimate cleanup effort for the Town of Winnsboro has been the clarion call of Councilman Bill Haslett for quite some time now, and at last it seems he will have his day. While the Council elected to forego adopting any new codes, instead opting to enforce the codes that they have, we congratulate them nonetheless. There will, undoubtedly, be a learning curve; there will be some resistance, some pushback from the anti-government, keep-your-hands-off-my-property crowd, and we encourage the Town to persevere and stand behind whomever it is they tap for the job.

They’re going to need all the help they can get.

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