FOX 8 Defenders: Plaquemines Parish cracks down on nuisance pool owners

After a FOX 8 Defenders investigation revealed several nuisance pools in Braithwaite, Plaquemines Parish has taken steps to crack down the owners.

FOX 8 Defenders: Plaquemines Parish cracks down on nuisance pool owners

Braithwaite, La. (WVUE) - The FOX 8 Defenders first showed in February, seven dark, stagnant swimming pools that from the air stood out in the Braithwaite Park subdivision on the East bank of Plaquemines Parish. We found the hidden dangers in the backyards of homes that in many cases have been vacant since Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

For years, neighbors like Jill Baumy reached out for action.

"I reported it to my councilman. He referred it to the administration. It went to the health department, and when I wasn't getting any action from the health department, I would call them myself and ask them what's going on, and they would tell me their hands are tied, they can't do anything," Baumy told us in February.

Two months after our first report at that time, one of those pools was filled with sand. A second pool that was fenced, but stagnant now has a heavy metal cover over it, and a third swimming pool has been drained and appears to have clean water. Three of seven blighted pools in Braithwaite Park we’ve investigated have been abated.

“I think we’ve accomplished some things in this short period of time, but again, we’re not happy until the job’s done, and we will keep working diligently until the job’s done,” Plaquemines Parish President Kirk Lepine said in April.

Residents like Dorothy McGuire agree. Her porch overlooks not one, but two pools still considered nuisances.

“I’m worried about the kids in the neighborhood.. they have a tendency to be curious,” McGuire said.

Since our second report in May, Plaquemines Parish addressed nuisance properties at abatement hearings earlier this month.

“You understand the main concern is that the pool is a danger to children if they can enter that gate?” Plaquemines Parish attorney Rennie Buras asked a property owner at one of the hearings this month.

Buras explained, a pool gate that isn't properly locked is actually a criminal offense that would be turned over to the sheriff's office.

Owner Elizabeth Gonzales, who owns a nuisance pool in the 400 block of Palm Drive agreed to fix it and cover her pool.

“I’m gonna cover the pool until I get a loan to fix it up so we both agree on that on 407 (Palm Drive),” Gonzales said.

The Parish gave her 45 days to install the cover.

The owners of another nuisance pool property scheduled for an abatement hearing were not present, and Health Department Superintendent Raymund Ferrer explained that there’s question over who actually has a clear title to the property at 433 Palm Drive.

In the end, Ferrer recommended the Parish bring the property into compliance.

“Board all openings to the building, board the hole in second floor roof structure, call out a bee contractor to remove bees, cut the grass in the back and drain and fill the pool in the backyard,” Ferrer said.

Parish crews will now drain and fill the pool with sand and place liens on the property for what it costs to do that. That work could start as early as next week.

The Parish says the same action will be taken on the property at 110 West Park Blvd.

“These people are living elsewhere and they wouldn’t want blighted property where they’re living now,” Baumy explained.

And since the home at 416 Palm Drive recently sold, the Parish gave the new owners 30 days from the June 5 abatement hearing to abate the stagnant swimming pool in that backyard.

“I think there was some disconnect in the beginning, but now we’re on track with the health department, the code enforcement officer, the legal department, and I think from here we’re kind of moving forward,” Lepine said.

If you’ve got a consumer issue you want us to address, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women, the NCJW or fill out our online complaint form.

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