With 1,600 city-parish work orders open, DPW crews caught working on private property
BATON ROUGE- One day after WBRZ cameras captured City-Parish Department of Public Works (DPW) crews working on private property, the City of Baton Rouge says that type of work is available to anyone for free.
Our cameras captured DPW crews on a lot between two buildings clearing a tree Monday afternoon. The crew drove off in such a hurry after seeing the WBRZ Investigative Unit that they broke a fence and limbs were left hanging off a work truck as they pulled away.
"Our neighborhood revitalization crew was in the area," Mark Armstrong with the City of Baton Rouge said. "They are a couple of blocks away on North 26th. They were clearing out trash and debris. They circle the area and look for additional debris, and they came across this lot to get off the roadway and picked up the debris on the right-of-way."
Yet, the trucks were not in the right-of-way, and the area being cleared was private property. Tax records show the property was sold a few weeks ago, but the sale has not been finalized.
Armstrong admits there was no work order for that property. WBRZ asked why the workers left in such a hurry after seeing us film them.
"They were done," Armstrong replied.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered there are currently 1,662 open work orders in East Baton Rouge Parish pertaining to blighted properties. At least 340 are in the district where our cameras captured work happening on private property. So why would city workers do work on private property with all of those pending work orders?
Neighbors tell WBRZ they are frustrated and fed up. Some residents say they have their own outstanding work orders with the city dating back more than a year.
"They took off when they were done. They do this all the time," Armstrong said. "It's standard. Our neighborhood revitalization crews go to assigned work assignments and circle the area looking for other debris."
With the city-parish defending the actions of their employees, Armstrong said anyone can get the same level of service by calling 3-1-1 or registering online. He also said the city-parish would pay for any damages caused even though there is no evidence city-parish workers were on the property since no work order was filled out.
"If the city-parish causes damage, a property owner simply needs to reach out and file a claim," Armstrong said.
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