[StBernard] Drive to demolish blighted houses stirs controversy in St. Bernard

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Mon Mar 9 16:31:29 EDT 2009

Each Ward has elected a Councilman (or women) representing all residents of
that ward. Outside of election time, you no doubt can't remember their name
or what they look like. Similarly, each ward has constables, though not
with the same authority.

Why doesn't each Councileman (and hopefully, each constable) "pretend" that
they are running for election and go door to door throughout their ward and
ask the residents for their feedback. They may, for example, find a street
or two where nearly every home is complete and the residents are questioning
several homes in different stages of recovery. They could then attempt to
help these few homeowners by learninig what their plans are, whether or not
they have the correct permits, and what is their estimated completion date?
Heck, they may even find that the delay in completing their renovation is
something that some small church or civic group (and possibly their
neighbors) would be willing to assist them with to finish their home,

Hopefully, this will be the case for many of the properties, and at the
minimum, everyone is on notice, the facts are documented, with picutres, in
the parish complex, and everyone knows what they can expect next.

On the other hand, there will be properties which cannot be reapired after
3/12 years. Still, the owners need some kind of help. Surely we have
church groups, Council of Aging, or some group that can meet with these
homeowners to help them relocate and dispose of the property whithout having
a lien placed against it. Assuming there are no such groups, isn't it about
time that every neighborhood form a "nieghborhood group or association" to
work amoung themselves to make their area the best it can be. These groups
should know exactly who their councilemember is and work with him, and
ultimately the Parish Chairman, to resolve issues based on facts, and not
carefully crafted newspaper items that are twisted to reflect the views of
whomever is paying for the ad.

Like everyone else, I regret Katrina and its impact to my family and
friends. Unfortunately, it happened and all we can do is move forward.
Many homes and businesses look far better today than pre-Katrina. It is my
hope that our elected officials will take the position to ultimately remove
the slabs that litter our landscape. My suggestion would be to move forward
with the lot-next-door program, however charge the same price with the slab,
then refund the difference once the new owner removes the slab. If the slab
is never removed, the parish will retain the funds to either remove the slab
or retain the funds for other parish-wide use. (Perhaps the cement from
these slabs could be used to build reefs or piled against the shorelines to
protect erosion, If nonthing else it can go to the parish waste center at no

Unfortunately, this is only my opinion, which no doubt can be argued. At
least it is an opinion that is an effort to try and get everyone to work
together instead of filing neadless lawsuits, using the news media to
present one-sided stories, and in the end, doing nothing to help ourselves,
our neighbors, and our parish to move forward. .....and what could be worse
than that.

John R.

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