Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Who's responsible? - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Who's responsible?

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

How do you remove an eyesore from your community and why does it take so long? Is the city of Jackson responsible and how much money do they budget each year to deal with nuisance properties?

Three On Your Side takes a look in a special Taking Back Our Neighborhoods investigation.

"To look at the transformation from me being a child growing up in this area to the point of how it looks now, it's like nobody cares," said Capitol Street resident, Joshua Young. "I guess since we're not in Eastover, but everybody over here is not doing wrong. We are tax paying citizens over this way too."

That's how Young says he feels every time he passes an abandoned house on Capitol Street. It's been that way for years now. 

"I am very disappointed," said Leola Lovett, another Capitol Street resident. "It's one thing I can't believe Jackson is still the state capitol looking like this."

Leola and Dudley Lovett live across the street from that same nuisance property. In 2014, I told you about a burned out structure next door to them for years. It was finally removed, but now there are weeds to contend with on the vacant lot.

"It's worse now than it was before," said Lovett.

A similar situation exists on Pillars Street, where a dilapidated house once stood. Now that the dilapidated house has been torn down, what's left behind is overgrown grass and weeds and brush and along with it, all kinds of things like snakes and rats and no telling what else.

It's a nightmare for Magellan Lockett who owns rental property next to it.

"And I've been working with this for about more than 3 years and got nowhere but the run-around," said Lockett.

That's been the sentiment of many of the Jackson citizens who have called 3 On Your Side for help since Taking Back Our Neighborhoods launched in 2009. I asked for response from a city official. 

"The city sets so much money aside annually to deal with these type properties," said Marshand Crisler.

Crisler is Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Jackson. He says the best way to get a nuisance property addressed is to call the 311 Action Line.

Crisler says a call to the 311 Mayor's Action Line creates a ticket or paper trail that begins what can be a lengthy process From contacting the owner, going through city council and environmental court to actual clean-up can take as many as 4 to 6 months.

"And I'm not saying all of them take four to six months," added Crisler. "I'm saying it could. Just depends on how fast it goes through each part of the process."

That process is in place now, says Crisler, because under previous administrations, houses were demolished without going through proper legal channels and the city had to pay. He estimates about 150 properties actually belong to the city.

"The state, on the other hand, roughly has 2,500 to 2,600 properties within the city limits of Jackson. That's important to know because most citizens believe that if it's state property, city property. That's not the case. We're both responsible, autonomously, for the properties that fall under our venue." said Crisler.

Asked why the state does not address some of the city's eyesores, Crisler replied, "Well, I can't speak to what the state does,"

But Crisler did point out a public/private partnership and the recently launched Side Lot program where you can buy abandoned property next to you for as little as $10 and clean it up yourself. Crisler is most proud of Mayor Yarber's decision to move Community Improvement under the Jackson Police Department.

"Because the people of Jackson don't like getting mail from the police department, we've saved the city upwards of a half a million dollars, maybe even closer to a million dollars now within the last, let's say, 16 months.," he said.

Crisler says $1.2 million per year is allocated for cleaning up nuisance properties. He estimates there are about 4,000 cases per year and after 240 demolitions and numerous board ups and grass and weeds cases, Crisler says there is about $60 thousand left.

As for people like Young, frustrated and still waiting after years of neighborhood blight.

"I would just tell them that, you know, we're going to continue to ask them to be patient because at the end of the day, there's nothing we can do to expedite it. We gotta check all the blocks right?" said Crisler.

"I mean, come on. We the Capital City. We want to look nice too. It's the capital, man!" said Joshua Young.

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