For weeks, Freret and Milan residents have been enthusiastically planning for Saturday’s “Fight the Blight” day around Samuel Square. But on Friday morning, the combined forces of nature and neglect made a preemptive strike when a derelict house slated for demolition collapsed on South Saratoga Street.
“It sounded like an explosion,” said Elma Bridges, looking over her balcony to the flattened roof partially buried under 10-foot tall weeds across the street. “Look at that forest they have here, and all that mess is still here.”
On Saturday morning, two of the Uptown New Orleans neighborhoods that have been most energetic in seeking their own revitalization will receive a shot in the arm from the city and hopefully hundreds of volunteers on “Fight the Blight” day at Samuel Square park.
The officer involved in a high-speed chase down Milan Street that led to the death of a college student home for the holidays in January was fired from the NOPD this week for lying about the case, authorities said.
After negotiations over a prostitution deal went awry, a woman called in a false report of a carjacking in the Milan neighborhood in an effort to retrieve a purse that was never stolen, police said Wednesday.
A Milan resident sitting on the porch was robbed at gunpoint by a passer-by last week, police said.
The rejection of a controversial Carrollton coffeeshop, the approval of alcohol sales at a new Walgreens on Claiborne, and other land-use matters on Oak Street, in Milan and in the Garden District were given final decisions this week by the New Orleans City Council.
For images of each property, see the Preservation Resource Center’s “Preservation in the Present” blog.
Billed by street-culture diva Big Red Cotton as the “last second line of the season,” the Uptown Swingers will roll through Freret, Milan and Central City starting at 1 p.m. Sunday.
For turn-by-turn directions and video from 2010, see Cotton’s post at Gambit’s bestofneworleans.com.
Two months ago, residents near the 2100 block of General Taylor in the Milan neighborhood likened it to a war zone, cowering in their homes while the latest gun battle raged in the street, then wearily emerging to pull the bullets out of their homes.
On Wednesday night, Milan residents celebrated the armistice since then with a party in that very block.
“It’s like a dream,” said nearby resident Helene Barnett. “To be perfectly honest, who would have thought that in New Orleans, the police would respond to our request? But they’re walking the beat. On a scale of one to 10, it’s gone from a one to an eight almost overnight.”
Months of organizing against the roots of violent crime in the Milan community will culminate tonight (Wednesday, June 8th) with a block party featuring food, kids’ activities and an assessment of the progress made so far.
After months of beseeching the Uptown-based NOPD Second District for more individualized attention to their neighborhood, Milan residents finally saw the levels of police presence they were looking for this past weekend, they gratefully told officers Tuesday night.
One weekend of suppression through heavy-saturation patrols and walking beats won’t stop the drug trade or end the gun battles, they acknowledged. But it did create a sense of safety and peace long missing from the neighborhood – and an impression that the police are listening to their concerns.
“It is a huge step on the road toward getting the criminal element out of our neighborhood,” said Milan resident Veronica Sharkey.