Long-blighted Hollygrove property creates frustration for neighbors

Long-blighted Hollygrove property creates frustration for neighbors

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Old mattresses amid foul smelling trash, dead animals, a ramshackle boat and vacant houses – that's what you'll find in an area of Hollygrove that is a hotspot of blight.

Gaynell Lawrence drives past it every day to pick up her friend who lives on Fig Street.

"As I ride through the neighborhood, I see a boat that's been here since Katrina, and then when I pick her up, I see the trailer that's across the street," Lawrence said.

It's a dilapidated camper trailer that neighbors say has sat on a vacant lot even longer than the boat nearby with the shredded metal, rotting debris and rodents as proof. The metal shell rests just a few feet away from a house full of kids...

"Growing up in a neighborhood with a trailer across the street is so unhealthy," Lawrence said.

The property with the trailer is listed as 9310 Fig Street. City records show multiple code violations dating back several years for everything from rodents to sanitation to overgrown weeds.

In 2013, code enforcement labeled the property a "public nuisance." The city's handbook for code enforcement says when a property is deemed a nuisance, the city could take action to remove the trailer from the property. But three years later, it still hasn't happened.

"Why can't they remove the trailer? I think that's the number one question," Lawrence said. "Maybe the city has to answer to that."

FOX 8 placed several calls to the code enforcement office to ask why the property hadn't been cleaned up. Those calls were not returned.

We also called City Councilwoman Susan Guidry, whose district includes Hollygrove. She refused an on camera interview but issued a statement saying her office, "learned from code enforcement that the lot...is set for sheriff's sale...and is in the legal review stage. The department of sanitation picked up the dumping on the right of way."

But the trailer hasn't budged. The owner of the lot is listed as Jose Fernandez with a Kenner address. The outstanding tax bill at 9310 Fig totals $3472.84, including a code enforcement lien of $2155 in 2015. The citations and bills have so far been ignored. We placed a call to Hernandez for comment but have not heard back.

"I think the city has a right to pick up the trash," Lawrence said. "I think the city could come and get the trash removed from the neighborhood, from the lots, and create neighborhoods that are healthy. I think they have a job to do and a job that needs to get done."

On the city's code enforcement website, it asks for understanding in matters like this, saying, "if hazardous and/or hard-to-move materials are on the lot, we will have to schedule those to be taken care of by another organization. Please be patient."

Lawrence is running low on patience and wants results.

"It's a detriment to the community, detriment to the neighborhood, and I'm realizing something has to be done," she said.

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