Plenty of concern, few answers at Lower 9th Ward meeting

Published: Aug. 11, 2015 at 2:18 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2015 at 2:37 AM CDT
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The mayor’s community sound-off drew hundreds to the community center in the Lower Ninth Ward, all looking to get an ear with Mitch Landrieu to voice their concerns.
Nearly 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, many residents at the meeting, mostly from the Ninth Ward and New Orleans East, feel the city has left their communities behind.
“I think the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East have been forgotten. At one time they were very popular areas and we had a high tax bracket, good people and it seems like now it's really forgotten,” Michele Keiffer, a resident of New Orleans East, said.
Many residents complained about the overwhelming blight in the area, despite a recent focus on mowing lawns in the Lower Ninth Ward.
“Right now they're doing a whole lot of cleaning up. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what they're doing. They're making it look nice for 8/29 and then after 8/29 we’re right back to where we were,” Henry Irvin Sr., who lives in the Ninth Ward, said.
Several residents were upset with the lack of resources in the community putting a strain on daily lives.

“On a daily basis the amount of people who come to my store is phenomenal, we have people who come in the morning, people come after work because there's nowhere else for them to go to. The closest store that we have in the Ninth Ward is Walmart, if you don't have transportation that's three city buses,” said Burnell Cotlon, who owns the only small grocery store in the area.

The mayor took the time to answer each question posed, but often could not satisfy people at the meeting. In fact, he agreed with the frustrations of several people, though not always able to pinpoint an actual solution, telling the crowd the money to fix their problems is still in their pockets.
“So what he talked about is an aspiration of where we should be and a pain in the neck place of where we are,” Landrieu said.
Landrieu did provide residents concerned about lighting problems an outlet, saying they would fix any street light if residents contact the city to let them know the location.

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