City to demolish eyesore homes

Published 4:43 am Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said Friday that the city will soon begin periodically demolishing condemned houses and properties that are creating eyesores within the city limits.

The first house to be demolished is located at 806 Ave. B. The plan is to begin tearing it down early Monday morning, Perrette said.

The mayor said that the city has not been able to demolish properties since 2012, well before she came into office. Perrette said that the city had been demolishing properties at that time, but got in trouble with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for not following certain regulations, including those dealing with the removal of asbestos.

However, the city was recently given approval by DEQ to resume demolition, Perrette said.

“The demolition of the condemned structure located at 806 Ave. B marks the city of Bogalusa’s effort to once again address the problem of blight in the city,” Perrette said. “We will be conducting this effort under strict guidelines from the DEQ. These guidelines from the DEQ and the financial burden on the city will dictate both the selection of the condemned structure to be demolished, and the timeline for this action.”

Perrette noted that the owners of the Avenue B residence were given plenty of time to get the property back into compliance.

“The owner would continue to ask for a ‘few more months’ over and over again, and it’s just been too much time,” she said. “We needed to do something.”

Patricia Spears, who lives next door at 810 Ave. B, said that the blighted house has been an annoyance to her and other neighbors for years. She has been living there since 1987, and has been living by herself since her husband’s passing eight years ago.

“I’ve had vagrants who have stayed in there, and it’s frightening since I live by myself,” she said. “There are snakes and rats, and when I try to mow around the (abandoned) house to keep it at least looking nice, then the snakes and rats come into my yard instead.”

Spears said that she had already made plans to move because of the danger, but she is still happy to hear that the eyesore is coming down.

“I was almost in tears,” she said, referring to when she first heard the news. “It was so scary and dangerous that I wouldn’t let my grandkids play out in the front when they came to visit. We fenced in the backyard and let them play there.”

Perrette said that DEQ has already helped the city create a list of properties that are condemned and scheduled for demolition, and the city plans to make its way through the list as efficiently as it can. The second planned demolition is an abandoned property on Sullivan Drive.

The DEQ’s requirements make it difficult to demolish multiple buildings in the same block at the same time, Perrette said. As a result, the city will only be able to address one demolition in a neighborhood at a time, and then will have to move to a different neighborhood farther away.

Regardless of how long it might take, Perrette said that the resuming of demolitions is a great thing for the city.

“Some streets in our city have multiple properties like this one, and it’s not fair to the homeowners who are doing a good job and keeping their property looking nice,” she said. “I keep hearing that a lot of these are heirloom properties and that grandpa or grandma owned them. That’s fine, but if it’s that important to you and you want it that bad, then you should keep it up and pay the taxes on it.

“Playing loud music isn’t the only way you can be a public nuisance. Letting your property go bad is also being a public nuisance.”