NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Community leaders in New Orleans East are demanding action from elected officials regarding the area’s blighted properties.
The group gathered outside of a blighted property on Plaza Drive Sunday, urging city leaders to do something about the property, as well as dozens of other properties in New Orleans East.
In response to a reporter’s question, one said speaker said, “Do we feel ignored? Does this answer your question?”
The property owner, 6700 Plaza Drive LLC, says they have filed a lawsuit against their insurers, Lloyd’s, seeking compensation for the damage the building sustained in hurricanes Zeta and Ida.
The property owner also said their plan is to renovate the building once litigation is resolved, but organizers of Sunday’s press conference are questioning their intentions.
“Had we not hosted this conference, would the public be informed? That’s the question,” Flight Blight NOLA activist Anthony Jackson, Jr. said. “But if we really galvanize together and start chopping down that tree, metaphorically, [we] pretty much could do some damage in New Orleans East.”
The Plaza Drive property isn’t the only area coming under fire. About two miles away, two vacant lots on Perelli Drive are disturbing neighbors’ peace.
“We have rats as big as opossums and opossums as big as pit bulls,” Robert Sevalia, who lives on Perelli Drive, said. “It’s a quality of life [issue]. It’s a public safety hazard.”
Community leaders are optimistic they can soon be proud to call New Orleans East home, citing recent beautification projects.
“Things are starting to look up for us, so this has got to go,” Dawn Hebert, president of the East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission, said. “So, we need to continue that process, and with this gone, developers will basically want to come to our community.”
We reached out to Lloyd’s for comment and are waiting to hear back.
District E Councilman Oliver Thomas tells WGNO he will continue to be aggressive in decreasing blighted properties in his district.