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Another Porter Street home targeted for cleanup 

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Almost a year after Linn County forced the clean up of a hazardous, abandoned property on Mill Street near Porter Park, another home on Porter Street became the focus of cleanup and ejection of trespassers.

Witnesses say multiple RVs, trailers, cars and piles of debris, as well as people, have overrun the property during the past four years since the property owner died.

The house address sign on Porter Street leans into a fence in front of property that is in the process of a major cleanup.

The property at 2391 Porter St. belonged to Steve Scott, who died at the age of 59 in September 2019. He had no children, but only a surviving sister, Julie Prosa, and nephew, Ryan Scott. According to Attorney Tré Kennedy, who represents Prosa, the nephew claimed Steve Scott had a will and left everything to him.

“This is the result of the nephew taking over for two and a half years,” Kennedy said.

The alleged will has never been found, but a will was recently discovered that revealed Scott left everything to Prosa, he said. Kennedy said Prosa didn’t want to get involved – given the state of the property and her original understanding it belonged to Ryan – but she ultimately agreed to file a probate.

Neighbor Steve Hunt described Steve Scott as a nice, down-to-earth guy who was always willing to help when needed. He said Scott came from the east coast, and he would play one of his many organs out in front of his shop for hours.

“He was really good at it. I mean, he played really good,” Hunt said.

Pieces of wood and rusted out metals lay piled near a burned-out shop.

Scott apparently mentioned to Hunt he wanted to build a music museum. Kennedy estimated Scott had upwards of 40 to 50 pianos and organs at one point, and he even had a Steinway with the signature of Steinway and his two sons. But whatever instruments he had on the property were destroyed by fire.

According to Hunt, while Scott was alive, a dryer duct fire burned up the house. After his death, Hunt believes there were two trailer fires, a garage fire and a shop fire. While Scott was alive, he maintained his property, keeping it clean, organized and mowed, Hunt said.

“Once Steve passed, it went downhill fast,” he said.

Though Hunt had no problems with the many new people who came and went next door, he said he’s glad to see the property getting cleaned up and see “some of the element” out of there. Ryan Scott, who’s currently serving a jail sentence for strangulation and methamphetamine, had a “good heart” and “fell for a lot of sob stories,” Hunt said, which is why he believes so many people were able to gain access to the property.

RVs, bikes, and a car and boat sit amid rubble in what appears to be a graveyard for vehicles.

Scott’s property is within one of several pockets inside that city that are actually part of Linn County, not Lebanon. As such, the City’s hands are tied as to how much authority they have to enforce code ordinances. In recent years, Kennedy has been building a partnership with the County to try to solve problems with properties that pose similar hazards, he said.

“I decided to make one last-ditch effort (on this property) and I was able to talk to the sister, and she agreed to go ahead and open up a probate,” he said. “So far we have removed the occupants, tried to secure the location, cleaned up as much garbage as we could just so we could get to the vehicles and other things that will take a little bit longer to deal with.”

To date, seven 30-yard trash bins of garbage have been taken to the landfill, Kennedy said. Court documents indicate from 2022 to 2023 there were 38 calls for service which included investigations of assaults, burglary, fires, overdoses, strangulation and suicide. Since Scott’s death, there have been 13 responses from the Lebanon Fire District for building fires, emergency responses, trash fires and unauthorized burning.

The process of cleaning up the property has begun, as revealed here, but is in limbo while it is determined how to dispose of vehicles and other debris.

“It’s in the county, but it also has obvious detrimental effects to the city,” Kennedy said.

Another property at Russell and Porter streets has also entered probate for the County to pursue the process of cleanup, Kennedy said. He thanked the County, and Linn County Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger in particular, for their efforts to work on the issues.

“We are actively working on the problems in great cooperation with the County,” Kennedy said.