New project plans to tackle degraded areas in North Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) — For years, landlords complained that empty lots were becoming dumping grounds. A new plan should change that.
Iris Washington has lived on Hollywood Street for about 23 years. She takes pride in taking care of her property even though the houses around hers have seemingly been overlooked.
“Oh, I can’t stand litter because I’m trying to maintain my garden, I’m trying to maintain my property. I have two abandoned properties on either side of me that I have to try to pick up paper, keep clean in my yard. I have men who come, I ask them if they can help me mow the lawn on either side of me, and I have to pay for it,” Washington explained.
Just down Hollywood Street, it’s a far cry from the glitz and glamor of its namesake. Instead, it looks more like a dump, a house that caught fire a few years ago. Tires, trash and even an old bathtub are thrown into the yard, the heaps attracting mosquitoes and rodents.
“Degraded housing is a big problem that most people can’t tackle on their own,” said Caleb Morrow, who works with Sahene Construction.
Morrow is at the Blight Removal Project, which meets on Wednesday, March 2 to see how his company can help clean up unmaintained properties.
“So one of my main initiatives is economic growth, but what companies want to plant next to a burnt down house. When you do these things now, you invite drugs and crime and other things that come into these communities where these homes are… all these devastated land is,” said EBR Metro Board member Darryl Hurst.
Hurst oversees the blight removal project. Its purpose goes beyond cleaning up abandoned residential and commercial properties, but also disposing of forgotten cars, clearing land that has become dumping grounds for tires and trash, and pulling out invasive weeds.
“So I know we have a few entrepreneurs here who actually have businesses in District 5, which touches my heart because they’ve been here for a number of years and they want to see where they work, live and play to be a place where they can thrive,” added Hurst.
The project will use U.S. bailout fund plan dollars to pay construction companies and licensed contractors. They have to submit a bid for the junky property they want to help clean up or, in some cases, tear down. Starting March 2, every Wednesday there will be another list of degraded properties to let businesses know what needs to be taken care of.
Demolition bids are expected this Friday, March 4.
Hurst said they are currently focusing on nine residential and commercial properties. Then the workers will have about five working days to start the project.
If you suspect an area is damaged, you can call 311 to make an official report.
Hurst said they have already started putting that plan into action. Just last week, workers from council member Hurst DPW cleaned up some of the rubbish under the Bluegrass Bridge.
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