JENNINGS — The city of Jennings is taking proactive steps to help clean up the community and rid the city of blight.
The city is scheduled to begin demolishing the first of 15 structures using city crews next week, according to Mayor Henry Guinn. A dozen more structures are in line to be targeted after the first of the year.
"We have a truck and heavy machinery coming in to demolish and completely remove these structures," Guinn said.
The effort is a push by city officials to clean up vacant and unsafe houses in various areas of the city.
The structures will be leveled and the lots cleared and resold for redevelopment.
"I consider this an investment in our future," Guinn said. "Whenever a city can eliminate blighted properties and seek them for redevelopment it improves the neighborhoods."
Most of the structures are abandoned and have been adjudicated to both the city and parish after property taxes were not paid. The city will place a lien on the property to recoup its cost for demolishing the structures.
"This is the most aggressive we have been on blighted property," Guinn said. "We have just as many privately owned blighted properties as we do adjudicated ones, however, private properties are significantly harder to tackle because they are owned by a private landowner who for various reasons can't take care of their property."
The goal of the campaign is to clean up every adjudicated property in the city, he said.
"We're not stopping till they are all done," he said.
About 100 homes and lots are currently adjudicated to the city and parish, which is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep.
"So if we can remove the structures, clear some trees, remove the utilities and add top soil we can make it presentable again," he said. "You can't sell the property if it is being ignored."
Guinn said there are multiple benefits to being proactive with cleaning up the structures because blight can create "serious issues" in a community.
"We are cleaning up the city, squashing criminal activities that occur in and around these structures and increasing our tax rolls and our neighborhoods will be replenished with new homes," he said. "It will be win-win for both the community and the parish."
The city has budgeted $40,000 to remove the structure. It plans to save $5,000 per structure by using city workers to demolish the structures.