JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Jackson city officials take a lot of heat for not responding quickly enough to complaints about neighborhood eyesores, but consider this: there are only 8 code enforcement officers in the city's community improvement division and they field hundreds of complaints on a weekly basis.
And then there are cases like Garden Circle off Englewood Street.
City officials wanted WLBT to see how repeat offenders have turned it into a private dumping ground.
Myra Thomas has spent the last 35 years on Englewood Street and if she has her way she'll live here 35 more years, despite the problems.
Asked at what point she had enough and decided to take back her neighborhood, Thomas said, "Well, several years now; we've been talking and calling and trying to get some results, so we have gotten results."
She and her neighbor were successful getting the property between them cleaned up and they're negotiating with the owner to buy the land, but across the street there is Garden Circle.
Thomas said, "Garden Circle is a dumping area, yeah, I mean, fast as they clean it up, they re-dumps again."
That's no exaggeration. Believe it or not, as recent as 2 to 3 weeks ago, the entire street, Garden Circle, was cleaned; no debris whatsoever and now there are signs of fresh debris all over the place; even dead animals.
Jackson Code Enforcement Officer William Hawkins said, "This is what we're dealing with on Garden Circle."
Hawkins and his director of the Community Improvement Division, Claude Smith say they are frustrated that Garden Circle is already back in this condition. They both say situations like this make an already difficult job that much more difficult. So, why not prosecute the dumpers?
Hawkins said, "Well, you gotta catch 'em in the process of doing it."
And that's easier said than done. Neighbors say Garden Circle is also used as a "lover's lane".
Even more frustrating, says Hawkins, is the fact that out of state investors are interested in putting 30 new homes here.
He said, "We're gonna try to keep it cleaned for that. This street does have an infrastructure in place. There are fire hydrants. There is city drainage and curbs; so the long term goal is to have it rebuilt into a neighborhood."
That's good news for Myra Thomas. Like the spring flowers in the lots on Garden Circle where homes used to be, Thomas thinks her neighborhood will eventually bloom again.
Asked if she is hopeful that her neighborhood will come back, Thomas said, "Oh yeah, it's going to come back, yeah, and I'm going to be right here to see it."
We will keep you posted on the Garden Circle situation.
We'd like to help you take back your neighborhood. Or if you've already turned around your community, we want to know how you did it. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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