TRASH HEAP: Neighbors fed up with blighted Algiers property

Higgins Gate Blight

ALGIERS, LA (WVUE) - Nearly a year has gone by since the city announced plans to clean up an eyesore in one neighborhood that has been sitting blighted since Katrina.

The FOX 8 Defenders have tracked the lack of progress at the Higgins Gate Apartments site, and now there are even more complaints. Last June, there was hope for neighbors who have to live next to the nearly 8 acres of blight.

"I'm happy to tell you that litigation is now completed, and the City of New Orleans and the Algiers Development District are now poised to move forward and help me to clean up this site," said City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey in June 2016.

Nearly a year later, Michael Arnona contacted us for help. He says for years he's been complaining to the city about the overgrown property that's been filled with rodents and trash.

"I thought I would contact you and, you know, get the ball rolling again, see what's going on," said Arnona.

We went out to Herschel and Westbend to find the land still in disrepair.

"The trees between the debris and the fence have grown they're about 20 feet tall now and so it hides it, there is a fence around it but that's knocked down in some areas so the kids can wander through there or wherever and so it's just not a safe area to have to go through and it's not fair that the residents of Algiers have to live by there," said Arnona.

We also contacted the city to find out what's being done about the problem. In a statement, the Mayor's office said:

"For too long, the former Higgins Gate site has sat vacant and blighted in Algiers. Mayor Landrieu has remained fully committed to clearing this eye sore so the property can be returned to commerce. Despite some legal challenges as well as the failure of the prior leadership of the Algiers Development District (ADD) to live up to their commitment to pay half the costs of the cleanup, ADD is now living up to their commitments, thanks to the assistance of District C Council member Nadine Ramsey. The cost to clear the site will be approximately $1 million. The City has entered into a CEA with ADD to share costs of clean up. At this time, we are finalizing a contract with Hamp's Construction, and work is expected to begin within a month."

The pastor of a neighboring church says he'll remain cautiously optimistic for now.

"I think at the same time we're just committed at this point as a church to doing whatever we can to try to keep the outside of Higgins Gate looking clean until the project gets done," said Berean Bible Church Pastor, Bill Magsig.

We spoke with the new board chairman of the Algiers Development District, he tells us the ADD has no authority to do anything with the property because that's up to the city. But, he says the ADD has committed up to $500,000 to help clean it up.

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