July 23, 2012
Meth labs rile neighborhood
Residents shocked by 2 recent busts in city
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Maple Avenue resident Carol Agate looks at her neighbor’s house as police officers gather evidence behind her Saturday at the site of a methamphetamine lab in Cortland.
Carol Agate has had enough.
As the city police raided a suspected methamphetamine lab on Maple Avenue Friday night, Agate watched from the home she rebuilt next door.
Agate has called the police about her neighbors in the last few months and said she was glad to see the police enter the home.
Still, after 15 years in Cortland, Agate is moving.
She said watching the police raid a suspected meth lab next door was the final blow.
“I’m going to wait for the police to clear out, but I’m putting a ‘for sale’ sign up,” Agate said. “I’ve had it. Enough is enough.”
It is the second meth lab busted in the city in the last two weeks. Police officials could not recall the last time a meth lab was discovered within the city limits. Meth labs are known to crop up more frequently in rural areas.
Two suspects in the Maple Avenue meth lab were due in City Court today for arraignment. Damien Grant, 22, and Katelynne Thomas, 21, both of 95 Maple Ave., are charged with a felony count of unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine, and a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
“Any time you have something that serious (as meth), it’s a major concern that it doesn’t spread,” Cortland Police Lt. Richard Troyer said today.
Police and firefighters responded to the Maple Avenue home Friday night for a reported house fire. There was no fire, but a lot of smoke was inside the house, Troyer said.
“It appeared they were in the process of making it (meth),” Troyer said.
Investigators found various common meth ingredients: Sudafed, Drano, fertilizer, and camping fuel.
On July 13, authorities raided a house at 76 Lincoln Ave. after a 911 caller reported a suspicious smell from the house.
Two Cortland residents — John Rosen, 43, and Renee Perfetti, 44 — were arrested Friday night in the Lincoln Avenue meth bust. Police seized evidence and ingredients used to manufacture meth at the home. Rosen and Perfetti were expected to face additional charges today, Troyer said.
The suspects in both meth lab cases are local residents who did not come from out of town, Troyer said.
Concerned about what is happening in her neighborhood, Agate, 62, has another home in Skaneateles and said she will live there. She is a SUNY Cortland graduate and loves living in a community where everything is a short walk or bicycle ride away.
“I love Cortland,” she said. “I prayed that there would be a rebirth here, but I’m leaving.”
Cortland was supposed to be a temporary stop for Agate and her husband, Keith, before they moved “to the tropics.” She decided to stay a little longer after Keith died in 2005.
The 15-year city resident has spent more than $100,000 rehabbing her 97 Maple Ave. home. It was in tough shape, but she said the appeal of French doors and “beautiful architectural moldings” made it a keeper.
She has rebuilt the early-1900s home with new hardwood floors, windows, kitchen countertops, a new porch, front-yard garden, and the “dream bathroom I always wanted.”
As she watched investigators come back to the 95 Maple Ave. home Saturday to recover more evidence, Agate talked with Jose Sevilla, who lives across the street.
“You don’t feel safe, and this is a neighborhood with a lot of kids,” said Sevilla, 62. “We live right next to a school (Parker Elementary).”
Some residents are staying and fighting back.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Anne Doyle, a longtime resident on Lincoln Avenue.
Doyle lives a few houses away from the house that was raided on Lincoln Avenue. She said the recent incidents show the need for a neighborhood watch group to work with the police to reduce crime.
She plans to organize some meetings for a renewed neighborhood watch next month.
“We are responsible for each other,” Doyle said. “We have to look out for each other. People in Cortland have got to pay attention to what’s going on. This is not like it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
Doyle, 79, has lived on Lincoln Avenue for decades. She has told her neighbors and friends that she will die in her Lincoln Avenue home when she is 100.
“That’s still the plan,” she said.
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