NEW ORLEANS -- Eight acres of debris from a demolished apartment complex still litters an Algiers property.
"We're very upset,” said neighbor Hezekiah Brinson. “Property value goes down. If there was a fire in here, I don't know if we could contain it."
Councilwoman Kristin Palmer said it’s been a trying ordeal to get the debris removed.
"And it's just been a very long, frustrating process, and I know the city is equally frustrated,” Palmer said.
The city hired Hamp's Construction to clean up the site 14 months ago. But work stopped after the state ordered all the debris treated as if it was contaminated by asbestos.
"Much more expensive, almost three times the amount, and that was very much different from what the specifications stated, our contract stated, and that's why we're in the impasse we're in now,” said Carlos Hampton of Hamp’s Construction.
The city disqualified Hamp's, which went to court, where the judge ruled in the company's favor. At this point the city is appealing, saying in a statement that “The people of Algiers deserve to get this property cleaned up, and we would once again ask Hamp's to get out of the way.”
"We've offered different solutions to the city and DEQ, and each time they denied them, so we had to go on with our legal right,” Hampton said.
But neighbors just want one thing.
"I'd like to see them clean it up,” Brinson said.
Palmer said, "I want the lawyers to sit down with the city, I want the lawyers for the contractor, and I want them to figure this out. At some point, we have to put public safety first."
And that's exactly what I'm asking both sides to do, sit down together, see if they can't work something out to get this mess cleaned up. I'll let you know what happens.