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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

GENTILLY, La. -- It was a packed house in Gentilly on Monday night as citizens sounded off on how they'd like the city of New Orleans to spend their hard-earned dollars.

The community meeting is one of five being hosted by the Landrieu administration before it tackles next year's 2014 budget.

'I love being back in Gentilly. I love the diversity of the neighborhood,' said Tiffany Carter.

The New Orleans native grew up in Gentilly and moved back to her childhood stomping ground three years ago. However, Carter says a spike in car burglaries, blight and very little commercial development in the area continue to be eyesores that are hard to ignore.

'We would love to walk to a grocery store in our neighborhood and dry cleaner and simple things that we don't have access to,' said Carter.

On Monday night, Carter and her son joined other residents at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, where city officials listened to citizens discuss a laundry list of concerns.

'We have a lot of potholes. We can't even drive down the street,' said one woman.

'We're still fighting infestation of rodents, mosquitoes that carry all sorts of diseases because of blight and overgrown lots inside our Upper 9th Ward community,' said Katherine Prevost.

Blight in neighborhoods and roads with dangerous obstacles drivers have to maneuver were frequent complaints along with the need to invest more money in Ponchartrain Park.

'Ponchartrain Park was a community of real men, real women. Working class. Who drove the economic engine of the City,' said another speaker at the community meeting.

Another sticking point for District D residents: Lake Terrace Shopping Center. The property was bought by a developer back in 2007 -- shortly after Katrina -- with the promise that it would be brought back to life, but it remains empty and unused.

'The biggest piece of blighted property on the lakefront is one block from here. It's the Lake Terrace Shopping Center,' said Rodger Wheaton, who asked the city to take back a community grant that the property owner received.

On Monday night, anyone and everyone got the opportunity to be heard by city officials in the hopes that what's important to them will be funded in next year's city budget.

'I think the administration is considering what we have to say. They're not just doing things without assessing our true needs,' added Carter.

A final District B community budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28th at KIPP Central City Academy, 2514 Third St. in New Orleans. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

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