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District 5 councilman taking first steps toward blight reduction

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BATON ROUGE - Councilman Darryl W. Hurst has a new plan to remove blight in north Baton Rouge.

The landscape in the area is dotted with blighted properties, many of them burned and abandoned. It's an eyesore to many, and Hurst is tired of looking at it.

"Part of my economic development plan is to clean the neighborhoods up, clean the business corridors up, and invite new rooftops and new businesses," Hurst said.

Hurst says it's time to clean up the mess to bring back business. His focus is along Plank Road and the Glen Oaks area.

"What business wants to plant next to a burned-down house? And when you do those things, now you invite drug crime and other things," Hurst said.

According to a press release, Hurst's initiative is an economic, environmental and social justice project. The initiative will include four phases.

The first and second will focus on removing blight residential and commercial properties and abandoned vehicles.
The third and fourth focus on clearing lots and cutting grass.

"One of my goals for district five is to make it look like a place that is inviting for the people that build here, grow here, and stay here."

Wednesday, Hurst met with several contractors, Like Dr. Homer Charles, who hoped to get the jobs tearing down the properties.

"Demolition of blight is a necessary evil. At the same time, we should be able to consider how we could quickly put those properties back into commerce and get some people out of homeless or transitional housing situations and put them into affordable housing," Charles said.

The project will start with eight blighted houses the city has condemned.

Close to $400,000 of American Rescue Plan cash will go towards the demolitions. Hurst says this project is different from other blighted projects in the past.

"These are district dollars I could allocate directly to these projects, and these projects can be invoiced to the district or the city, and you get paid in return. So it doesn't have to go through the typical process through the city of Baton Rouge to determine if it will be chosen or not."

Contracts should be awarded next week, and demolition will begin later this month.


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