Illegal dumping adding to Baton Rouge blight issues
BATON ROUGE - Junk piled up in yards and lots across the city is leading officials to crack down on illegal dump sites.
"Nobody wants to live in an area such as this here," Jerome Merricks said. Merricks lives in a neighborhood on Gracie Road. It's a spot he said is popular for illegal dumping.
"That's a quality of life issue anywhere in this country," Merricks said. "If you don't try to contain that, you're community goes down day by day."
Part of that decline includes an incline in crime, according to East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker.
"This is an economic issue as much as it is a community issue," Wicker said. "If we don't solve this issue, and solve it immediately, we're going to start to see more increase in crime, more declining of our community. So to me, it has to be one of our top priorities that we're dealing with as a city."
The area near Gracie Road is in Councilwoman Wicker's district. Wicker said they have attempted community sponsored cleanups in the past, but they have not seen results.
"Literally overnight sometimes, they'll clean it up. The next day, next two days, you come back, there's a mattress there," Wicker said.
Wicker said part of the reason people dump in the area is that it is more cost efficient compared to using a landfill. Wicker said offering incentives for people to use the local dump may be a solution, but the city needs to get involved.
"When we come in and work with a community group, or the city to get a lot like this cleaned up, why not go ahead and put in a temporary garden with some beautiful flowers or something, so that people will be less inclined to go back in and to dump," Wicker said.
Councilwoman Wicker said with the Blight Task Force in place, people who live around the dump site could see improvements soon.