FOX 8 Defenders: Council members, Code Enforcement differ on what constitutes a pool emergency

FOX 8 Defenders: Council members, Code Enforcement differ on what constitutes a pool emergency
At the longtime nuisance property on Vicksburg, the swimming pool water remains black and stagnant. (FOX 8 Photo)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A pool Lakeivew neighbors say has been an imminent health and safety hazard for years was a hot topic at a New Orleans City Council committee meeting Thursday. The pool along the 5700 block of Vicksburg at Florida Boulevard has been the subject of multiple FOX 8 Defenders reports. The Council’s Governmental Affairs committee asked Code Enforcement leaders, after more than 10 years of code violations, what’s stopping the City from using its emergency powers laid out in the city code to physically go onto that property and fill the pool?

"This is a pool that is not filtered. This is a pool that has the potential to transmit Zika. This is a pool that has a gaping hole in it that is getting worse," Council member Joe Giarrusso explained.

“This is not a normal interaction between two private parties. As the government, we have a heightened burden, and acting under cover of law as the government does not mean we go to CDC (Civil District Court) and let her (homeowner) sue us. This could become a federal issue,” Code Enforcement leader for the City Chad Dyer said.

In November of 2017, when the FOX 8 Defenders first approached Dyer about the dangerous pool he explained the City is limited in what it can do by the U.S. Constitution.

Code Enforcement leaders told City Council members the City attorney advised them the conditions around this pool do not constitute an emergency, but she may not have been aware of the gaping hole that exists in the brick fence around the pool.

"If a child does walk through and dies, is that then an emergency situation after the child is dead? Then do we have the ability to go in and fill up the pool?" asked Council member Kristen Gisleson Palmer.

"I also brought a picture of all the children in our neighborhood. Even if that four foot tall hole in the brick wall is fixed tomorrow.. any small child can push their way through the back gate," concerned Lakeview homeowner Brigette Starr told the Committee. On Monday, a Code Enforcement hearing officer ruled to fine the pool owner, Frances Musacchia, the maximum $500 fine for each of the seven violations against her property and to allow the City to fill the pool.

Musacchia has 30 days to appeal. Meantime, Council members plan to meet with the City attorney to re-assess an emergency filling of the pool.

The FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women field consumer complaints at 1-877-670-6397.

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