Tires, mattresses litter New Orleans East neighborhood, city handling 1,500+ illegal dumping requests

“Most people don’t see this and know that this area, the abuse that goes on here,” said resident Mary Smith
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 9:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Residents of one New Orleans East community said they’re plagued by an illegal dump site right in the middle of their neighborhood, and now they’re calling on the city to step in and make changes.

Around Wendy Lane and Cindy Place, debris spills out onto the streets: tires, mattresses, couches, laundry baskets. Just a stone’s throw away are occupied townhomes and apartment complexes.

Neighbors tell FOX 8 that illegal dumping off Lake Forest Boulevard has been a problem for years, but that when a dump site is in the middle of a neighborhood, it erodes their quality of life.

“You’ll find this to be a non-traditional site for dumping because there are still people who live in this community, children who still take school buses in this community, so you would think it would be discouraged that the dumping is here, that the abandoned buildings are here,” said Aeisha Kelly, a New Orleans East resident.

Kelly and Mary Smith, a resident who lives in a complex nearby, reached out to the city for answers. Smith submitted a 311 request in May, reporting illegal dumping in the area.

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“The misuse of the property, whether it’s private property or whether we’re on public grounds. We need to do something about it,” Smith said. “I know that individuals come here and they abuse our land by what they do here, but you can’t tell me that we can’t do something to stop this.”

A city spokesperson said the Department of Sanitation currently has pending 1,519 illegal dumping requests through 311 citywide. In an emailed response to Kelly, the department said it only recently completed its backlog of requests from 2021, and noted that “Sanitation will only remove debris on the public-right-of-way,” referring Kelly to Code Enforcement via a 311 property maintenance request.

Long-abandoned apartment buildings lie across the street, with the lots of now-razed apartment buildings becoming dumping grounds.

“How do you think it makes the people who live around here feel that they live right next to this?” asked FOX 8 reporter David Jones.

“How would you feel if you lived in New Orleans most of your life, even if you came back after Katrina, but this is what you have to come back to?” responded Smith, who walks the neighborhood daily as part of a movement called Prayer Walkers, encouraging other residents to walk their communities and pray.

“There are apartment complexes here, and there are children,” Smith added. “This is what they have to see every day when they leave to go to school or come home.”

The spokesperson went on to add that the Department of Sanitation “has begun work on the next tranche of citywide dumping requests, 624 requests submitted between Jan - March 2022.” They added that the administration is optimistic federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act will be allocated in the near future, allowing the department to contract with outside vendors to assist with dumping requests.

Councilman Oliver Thomas, who represents New Orleans East, said the city needs to do a better job of enforcing laws already on the books.

“We have to let people know: you can’t do anything you want in this city man. You can’t disrespect us like this,” Thomas said. “If I let you get away with the little stuff, what do I do when you graduate to the big stuff? And there’s a feeling in this town that people can do what they want, when they want, how they want to whoever they want. We have to send a message that you can’t.”

Thomas said he’d like to see Code Enforcement step up and start bringing some of the property owners who neglect their properties to court.

“If they’re going to be as aggressive as they are and disrespecting us, we need to be damn well as aggressive as we can be behind the charter and behind the law to make them pay a price for it,” Thomas added.

As for the abandoned apartment buildings at 6800 and 6801 Cindy Place, the spokesperson confirms that judgments were rendered and paid against the owners back in 2018, but since August 2021 the vacant buildings have come under new ownership.

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