Eyesores no more: Parish says more than 50 structures demolished in 18 months

Published 12:12 am Saturday, May 26, 2018

LAPLACE — Veteran St. John the Baptist Parish Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. has long stressed the need to demolish blighted properties in his home Reserve district and across the parish.

Madere said a constituent once asked for assistance in tearing down a blighted property in 2012 only to pass away before the job was completed.

It is a memory that sticks with him today.

“I was frustrated with the time it took, but I learned the process is a little more difficult than I thought when I first got in office,” Madere said. “You have to ask, where are the finances? Who is the legal owner of the house, and did you give them due process?”

Madere, along with many others in the parish, are seeing their desires come to action with ongoing demolitions.

As of late last week, three hazardous structures have been demolished and plans for eight more are set in accordance with a Planning and Zoning-led project.

DHL Contracting began May 8 to prep 11 uninhabited structures, identified as unsafe based on structural inadequacies and other criteria, for demolition.

The first four sites cleared were 204 Daffodil St. in Mt. Airy, 161 and 163 Captain G. Bourgeois St. in LaPlace and 237 Elm St. in LaPlace.

Other sites slated for demolition by the end of June include 129 Jessie Lane in Vacherie, 205 East 30th St. in Reserve, 457 South Little Hope St. in Garyville, 205/207 Chestnut St. in Mt. Airy and three locations in Edgard: 127 Sixth St., 139 East Sixth St. and 160 Louisville Lane.

Planning and Zoning Director Alexandra Carter said processing hazardous building violations has resulted in more than 50 St. John demolitions at very little cost to taxpayers over the last 18 months.

The current $85,000 project involving 11 structures is the first project to receive funding through a Hurricane Isaac Community Development Block grant, Carter said.

“Obviously, the community would like us to pick up the pace, and we are doing our best to rise to each challenge,” Carter said. “As with any grant program, time must be built in for unexpected delays.”

Councilman Kurt Becnel said he commends Carter and her team for securing funding, a process that has been years in the making.

“It’s going to be a great thing,” Becnel said. “I just need to see some action.”