SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A 90-year-old widow is facing thousands of dollars’ worth of fines for code violations.
Marie Louise Sikorski has no way to pay the fines or to fix the problems herself. But, a neighbor felt inspired to help Sikorski.
Sikorski has called a little pink house on Webber Street home for decades. She’s scared she’ll lose it.
“We’re concerned with how the city is acting,” Sikorski said.
Her husband, a military veteran, died years ago. Since then, her house has fallen into disrepair. In recent years, the city issued numerous code violations and threatened to begin the foreclosure process.
The home was rundown, the yard was overgrown, a fence was broken, and neighbors were complaining.
Neighbor steps up
Then, a few months ago, a neighbor felt inspired to help. “I had some quiet time in the morning, and God started talking to me about this house. God is the one who had mercy and said, ‘Go find this
widow; she’s in trouble and needed help,’” the neighbor, Miles, said.
So he spent time and money fixing the problems himself. “I don’t know her well; I’m just a neighbor that saw a widow that needed some help,” Miles said.
But, the fight’s not over. “Now it’s all done. The neighbors are happy, and (the city is) still pursuing the issue,” Miles said. “Now that everyone’s happy, (the city) should be willing to lift those fines and step out of the picture, so I feel like they’ve just overstepped their bounds at this point.”
So he put up large signs in front of the home, describing the problem. The goal is to rally the community to help. It’s received attention on social media.
People have pulled over at the house to try and help. While News Channel 8 was there, Jack Rice with Super Pavers pulled over and offered to build a driveway for Sikorski. “Everybody gets worried about how things are today, but with more young guys like this, things will be great,” Rice said.
Sikorski is overwhelmed by this outpouring of generosity. “It’s been very interesting to know that people care,” she said.
Miles is surprised too. “I kinda wished that maybe I had put up a sign earlier so I wouldn’t had to put in so much hard work,” he joked.
The city sent News Channel 8 a statement. It reads, in part:
“The City of Sarasota is not interested in taking anyone’s home. The city only became involved because of serious code and safety concerns/complaints. City Manager Tom Barwin has spoken with the person who is trying to help and has assured him and others that the city has no interest in taking anyone’s home and the matter will be reviewed Tuesday to continue to resolve any remaining issues fairly and with compassion.”
The spokesperson also expressed concern Miles enlisted the help of unlicensed contractors for the repairs.
“I just had the work done without a licensed contractor even though I knew that was wrong,” Miles said. “They said it was a safety issue, but which one is the priority? Is the priority to give the city their $200 for the permit or to get the safety issue fixed right away? I decided to get it fixed and just deal with the consequences later.”
The city is scheduled to hold a hearing over the code violations on June 23.