I was surprised to hear Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken's complaint about the property owned by Starkey Flythe ("Commissioner vexed over eyesore," Dec. 11), so I went by and looked at it.
Apart from a large magnolia tree partially obscuring the house and a lot of leaves in the front yard, I saw little wrong with it. There is an excavation by some utility near the street surrounded by protective barriers.
It's my understanding the property has been and continues to be occupied by a tenant, and is used several times per week by Mr. Flythe himself. This historic property was visited by Robert E Lee. Certainly there are hundreds of properties in much worse shape in Augusta, but obviously not all are next door to politicians.
Mr. Flythe has been harassed by the city, and I think the harassment should cease. Over many years this property has been used by tenants, often young people in transitional periods in their lives. My own son Andrew was a tenant in this house when he was a student, and now has a successful career. He was able to afford the low rent thanks to the kindness of Mr. Flythe. My son's major complaint about the house is that he would be awakened at 3 a.m. by train whistles. Train tracks are in the street just next to the house.
Note to Mr. Aitken: If he really wants to improve the neighborhood, why not try to work with the mayor and commission to get the tracks relocated?
Mr. Flythe is a distinguished lifelong resident of Augusta, and in his long career as an editor of The Saturday Evening Post and prize-winning author of poetry and novels, he has many friends and supporters here. I hope Mr. Aitken will work with those of us who respect Mr. Flythe to find a mutually satisfying conclusion to this unfortunate controversy. I know I speak for his many friends in offering my own efforts to help clear obstacles to neighborly tranquillity.
Thomas R. Swift, M.D.