Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Progress? Quoi?

I blearily peeked out from under my duvet this morning at exactly 7:01, when the jackhammers started pummeling the street outside. Jake and Charlie, who have taken to luxuriously stretching out in D.'s absence, jumped up in alarm, and promptly punctured my liver.

Well, yes, that's a bit of a stretch, but the collie maiming was very painful when paired with the siren's call of the construction outside.

Still, half the battle of progress is to accept change in all of its murky good and bad proportions, right?

So here's the latest on the burned out house (AKA "Squatter's Heaven") across the street, thanks to a patient neighbor who sat through the code enforcement hearing yesterday:

Debriefing from yesterday's Adjudication Hearing for 1908 Peniston St: After many hours of waiting for the address to be called, the new owner (Stephen Smith) and myself entered the meeting room for the court proceeding. The Code Enforcement Officer and Mr. Smith were sworn-in (anyone who speaks will be) after which the Officer read off the charges against the owner. The Officer provided photos to the Hearing Administrator who asked the owner if HE was the owner of the property and did he dispute the condition of the property or the charges. He agreed that he was the owner and guilty of all charges. He added that he had just bought the property and intended to demolish but was told that the City was working on their own demo plans and that he should wait to see what the City does."Irrelevant," stated the Administrator; "Are you aware that YOU are currently facing Civil and Criminal charges for your (in)actions?" The owner stated that he understands now! The Administrator ordered another inspection in 30 days to determine if the owner has remedied that which he was charged of; next hearing date is August 13.
But wait, there's more - the house directly across from Squatter's Heaven is a gorgeous Spanish-style house abandoned by its owner, a vice-president at Purdue University. His house is literally falling apart from the inside out, and people have been helping themselves to parts of his former home - in March I literally watched someone back a truck up the drive and steal all of the furniture from the house. Along with a ton of other neighbors, I've called the police many times to report kids from Cohen breaking in to the house or squatters taking up residence...but Mr. Rochon has thus far continued his siege on our neighborhood.

Now I get it if you're just devastated financially after a hurricane, and can't rebuild in the same area. I also understand to a certain extent when people are emotionally devastated by storm waters and high winds - I grew up in the Florida panhandle, and before I moved to NOLA I lived in south Florida (a veritable beacon of hurricane joy). I can relate to being suckered punched by Mother Nature and trying to find a scrap of determination and strength to fix things or to even start over.

But I dislike intensely the head-stuck-in the sand approach of former residents like Mr. Rochon, who instead of taking responsibility for his property, plays the "woe is me" card whenever he is contacted about the safety hazards his home and yard create for our struggling neighborhood. This man is a human Eeyore - instead of seeing the potential for revitalization he sees excuses. We all share responsibility for improving this city and ensuring its sustained future.

Did I mention that this man is a VP at Purdue? Yeah. From another neighbor:

There has been a notification of Violation and Hearing Notice posted at 1905 Peniston (Gilbert Rochon III house), and the hearing is scheduled for July 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm at 1340 Poydras Street Suite 1100. If anyone can attend, please do!!! This property has been a danger to the neighborhood as vagrants and neighborhood teens have used it as a source of income (stealing architectural items and metals), a place to sleep, a place to hang out, and a dumping ground for trash and stolen vehicles (set on fire). Mr. Rochon has been notified on several occasions of the problems that his abandoned property has caused, and he has taken insufficient steps to secure the premises. The rear of the property has been fenced, but the gate is open allowing easy access.

The Delachaise Neighborhood Association will meet Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at The Columns Hotel.

1 comment:

Karen said...

The Peniston Street owner spent the entire hearing on his blackberry. I was there observing.