A couple weeks after last month’s issue hit the streets, I got two e-mails from readers alerting me that I had only “scratched the surface,” as one put it, of the dumpiness associated with that property — a long-vacant, unpainted house on Whitney Avenue in Portland. The owner of that house, Roger Matthieu, lives in Falmouth, and I had assumed his own home was quite nice. You know what happens when you do that …
Matthieu lives on Blackstrap Road, near the Falmouth/North Deering line. His property is a large, triangular parcel bordered by Blackstrap, railroad tracks, and the Falmouth spur to Interstate 95. The property is largely hidden from view by tall arborvitae, but a peek through the branches reveals this is not a typical piece of Falmouth real estate.
There are upwards of a dozen junked cars rusting in various parts of the compound: several minivans, a passenger car or two, and a couple antique trucks being slowly devoured by creeping weeds. The house is a ramshackle, unpainted wooden structure with an improvised roof. It’s attached to a huge barn that’s in even worse shape.
Matthieu did not return my follow-up call, but during our conversation about last month’s dump, he remarked that he’s a “saver, not a spender.” That may be the understatement of the year.
A source who’s known Matthieu for years said the barn is practically packed to the rafters with junk and the house is similarly cluttered — so much so that a heating contractor declined a job there due to the mess. Matthieu and his wife are “famous for buying the dregs from yard sales with some vague unknown future plan,” the source said. People who know the couple are getting worried, and some have expressed their concern to Matthieu, but the source said Matthieu is not open to discussing the subject.
He may not have a choice much longer. I called Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore to find out if Matthieu’s property has been cited by code inspectors. Poore said nothing regarding the place has crossed his desk in the seven years he’s been the manager.
Code enforcement officer Justin Brown was likewise unaware of the state of the property. But while we spoke on the phone he took a look at an aerial view of the parcel online and noticed all the vehicles in the yard. Assuming more than one or two are not currently registered and inspected, Matthieu appears to be in violation of state laws regulating junkyards.
Normally, when a property is even “on the cusp of being a junkyard or falling into disrepair,” Falmouth residents will report it to town officials, Brown said. Before I hung up, I got the distinct impression that Brown would be paying Matthieu a visit soon.
— Chris Busby