City Council discusses blight, security cameras

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Home located in Port Barrow, Donaldsonville.

The January 23 city council meeting was directed to the old Weil's Grocery and trailer park, a revamped property at 712 Veterans Boulevard that is facing the same problem many are having in the Historic District. Visible blight.

Not blight that is a block or two over. But blight right across the street.

In this particular case, Keith and Tracey Landry have a beautiful home right across the street from Cafe Lafourche, with a nice car in the driveway. Located in Port Barrow, the home has a beautiful deck for relaxing and observation.

However, the Landry's claimed before the council that they are faced with neighbors who are constantly troubling. They claimed that people are congregating in homes with no water or electricity and urinating out in the open.

"We have witnessed so many young men who choose to spend their lives congregating night and day at occupied and unoccupied homes with no water or electricity," wrote Keith Landry in a letter passed out to the city council.

In fact, the shotgun home located directly behind the Landry's is a stark comparison to their home. It is half-painted black or could be burnt. There are bike frames, spray bottles, construction cones, smashed soda cups, and tin and plastic cans in the yard (which is mostly dirt). The roof is almost completely rusted. It has a "Leroy Sullivan for Mayor" campaign sign in the front window. One would question if anyone could live there, if not for a new-ish Pittsburgh Steelers flag flying over the front of the house.

"These homes have one thing in common: drugs, crimes, weeds, trash, debris, urinating in public and other behaviors . . . The city needs to bring these houses down NOW with the expense added to the owner's tax bill," wrote Landry.

Moreover, Landry proposed a solution. Landry is putting a proposal together to add six cameras to street corners in Port Barrow. He's willing to spend $15,000-$20,000 for material and installation if the parish and city grant him permission.

"The parish would provide better street lighting around the six new camera locations," Landry wrote in his proposal.

City Attorney Chuck Long assured the Landry's and Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin that anyone who is not connected to the parish or city utilities (gas, water, sewerage, electricity), defecating in buckets, urination outside or in the open can be evicted. But that doesn't necessarily cleanup the property.

Long also said, however, that the city cannot do much about people congregating in a yard "playing tic-tac-toe," as he put it. "But public urination is an outright crime," Long said.

The Landry's moved to Donaldsonville three years ago from Baton Rouge after inheriting grandparent's property.

"Welcome to Donaldsonville," Councilman Rev. Brown said. "We certainly pray and hope that we get more people like you to come into and invest in our community and take pride in the Port Barrow area. We've been having problems in that area. It's not just one house we are isolating. It's something that has happened over years."

The city council was supportive. Councilman Lathaught Delaney said that the city can move quickly, saying they have done so in the past. Long said he could have the eviction on the agenda by February 13, if code enforcement does their thing.