The Port Allen Neighborhood Watch is asking City Council members to take a more proactive role in the community to reduce blighted homes and property.
Most Neighborhood Watch meetings are filled with complaints and “inconsistencies” throughout the city, said Liz Holmes, who is the chair of the city’s Neighborhood Watch group.
She is asking the City Council to help cleanup the neighborhoods with attention to “junk” and abandoned cars. She said she wants to see the City Council, as well as Parish Council members, make themselves more visible to the community members so they can voice their concerns about blighted properties.
“We’re looking at it neighborhood-by-neighborhood,” she said. “We’re just asking for a little help.”
Mayor Richard Lee said the relationship between the city and its people could be improved.
“We need to step forward in the community, as far as lending a hand to people in need, instead of just sending [maintenance supervisor Lance Guidry] out and saying ‘You need to cut your darn grass,’” the mayor said.
Additionally, the city has been stalled in condemnation proceedings for several dilapidated homes that have been under scrutiny since last year.
The city listed five properties that were blighted and in need of repair during a council meeting last December. Three of those homes have not seen any repairs and have worsened, according to Guidry. Those homes included 911 Ave. 13, 1024 Ave. C and 1210 Ave. C.
The city has had to rely on the parish government to inspect the buildings for condemnation. While awaiting inspection, one of the homes that was on the chopping block began to see rehabilitation, the mayor said.
The city provided the owners of the properties a timeframe to make repairs before beginning the condemnation proceedings.
“I think we’ve been more than lenient,” said Councilman Hugh Riviere. “We’re moving at a snail’s pace.”
Lee said he does not want to extend the grace period for construction and repairs on these homes anymore than he already has.
“It makes the property values of the homes in the area go down. It’s an eyesore and a place where criminals and homeless people might live,” he said. “It just makes it unsafe for the neighborhood.”
If the city could find an inspector at a reasonable price the process might move faster, he said. Until then, they are on the parish government’s time.