NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some Lower Ninth Ward residents would welcome more inhabited homes, but what many would like to see right away is an end to the tall grass and weeds and the illegal dumping it invites.
People driving and walking along parts of North Claiborne Avenue in the Ninth Ward see signs of undeniable progress since Katrina. But residual blight and ongoing neglect remain obvious along other sections of the thoroughfare.
"It's a wilderness, grown up," Raymond Grimble said.
And off North Claiborne on some neighborhood streets, the tall grass is even worse.
"It brings the value down on the property with all of that, and then you have the snakes running through there, what's coon, or possum," said homeowner Wesley Hall.
Hall takes pride in keeping his yard on Gordon Street tidy. Even though he is up in age he makes a point of cutting the grass and weeds on the vacant lots on both sides of his home and in the rear.
"I stop right here and I come from that fence which is my property all the way to right here and I do the whole lot," Hall said.
But there's only so far he can mow behind his home because of the dumping ground that is a source of growing irritation.
"That house they remodeled - you can see the siding. You got mattresses in there, all kind of debris that's in there. Been calling City Hall for the longest to try to get this cleaned. All they tell me, they don't do empty lots," Hall said.
So he said he tried to make a deal with the city.
"I even tell them, I said, 'well, if I cut most of the lot, if y'all can come and pick that trash up, I'll keep it all clean,'" Hall said.
He said repeated calls to his councilman, James Gray, didn't result in any progress.
"He ain't never done nothing for it," Hall said.
The high grass, weeds and trash on Strand Court, which is behind Hall's home, unfortunately has a lot of competition.
"We got to clean this lot so my lot won't get overgrown with the grass and the weed," Grimble said as he and another man cut down weeds from a lot adjacent to his at the intersection of Gordon and North Villere streets.
He believes neglectful property owners should be forced to change their ways.
"The city should get on those people, then we won't have to do it. If I can take care of mine, then they should take care theirs. Then if not, the city should do it for them," Grimble said.
On the opposite side of North Claiborne Avenue, there was more of the same. On some streets tall grass and weeds protrude into the road, and old toys, roofing materials and other discarded items littered overgrown areas.
Hall said he will continue to mow vacant lots around his home that he can access without moving illegally dumped trash and furnishings. But he and others said the problem that has taken root in their still-recovering community deserves major attention from the city.
The city released the following statement: