A court-appointed receiver gave a housing-court judge photos of hundreds of open cat-food cans piled up inside and outside of 97 Mt. Ida Rd. - which he said today explains why rats keep flocking to the derelict property, because they love the stuff as much as cats.
After owner James Dickey acknowledged at a hearing he was leaving open cans of cat food on the property - but to feed cats, he said - Judge MaryLou Muirhead ordered him to knock it off.
Muirhead took no other action today in the spat between Dickey and ISD over the property that is now more than a decade long, drawn out in part by the lawsuits Dickey keeps filing, lawsuits that, for the most part, he loses. ISD says the house is a public-safety nuisance that needs to be either made habitable again or torn down.
Stuart Schrier of Dorchester, appointed by the court as a receiver to figure out what to do about what has become a neighborhood blight, told Muirhead that in addition to observing the empty cat-food cans, he left some poisoned rat-food bait and then returned to find most of it apparently eaten.
At the hearing, Dickey blamed the rats on the city, which he claimed broke the connection between the street sewer main and the house, leaving it open to rat invasions. "They're responsible," he charged.
"Do not feed the cats," the judge retorted. "It's ill advised."
Schrier told Muirhead that despite all the damage from a 2011 fire, he thinks the house is still salvageable - and that it could bring $500,000 even in its current state and as much as $1.5 million if it were fully rehabbed and turned into three condos, because of the house's prime location across from Ronan Park on a hill overlooking the water.
However, he acknowledged it would take a lot of work - and said he was unable to get into the basement or upper floors either because of all the stuff still crammed into the first floor or because the main stairs have been burned away. He said the entire first floor was filled with debris left over from the 2011 fire and estimated it would take at least two large dumpsters to cart away all the unusable stuff inside.
Murhead said she would review Dickey's motion to have Schrier removed as a receiver in the case - but after she came within a hair's breadth of having a court officer physically removed Dickey from her courtroom.
Dickey tried to explain his request by bringing up another receiver and another house - which he did not own. The connection was that Schrier served as that receiver's lawyer during a court case. Muirhead said she did not want to hear about a receiver or case that had nothing to do with 97 Mt. Ida Rd.
"I think we're done with this conversation," she told Dickey. "You can't do that," he replied, as the court officer got up from his seat near the judge's bench. "You can't stop me from talking."
And he then tried to bring up the other house again.
"I'm done hearing about the other case," Muirhead said, as the court officer moved closer to Dickey. "I do not need to hear any more."
"Yes, you do!" Dickey replied.
The judge ordered him to sit down. He didn't and continued, "I have a right to be heard!"
"You have a right to be heard about 97 Mt. Ida Rd., " she replied. She said she would look at the documentation Dickey filed explaining his case to have Schrier removed, then said she was done hearing about the other house - and that if Dickey said one more word, "the court officer will help you out [of the court]." Finally, Dickey was quiet.