NEW ORLEANS -- Robert Spriggens has fond memories of the Lower Ninth Ward. He grew up there and later came to own several properties in the neighborhood. In the seven years since Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent levee failures, Spriggens has fixed up his properties, but said he has not seen much done to the city's infrastructure there.
'Seven years later, they're still fixing it,' he said. 'The frustration is, that I look at other parts of the city and I see so much progress being made. I look down here and I see very little.'
The concerns are shared by others in the Lower Ninth Ward, who shared their thoughts with three city council members during a neighborhood meeting on Saturday. Among them was the brand-new District E Council Member Freddie Charbonnet.
'The issues are really endless, but this was a good meeting because I think we now have some structure,' Charbonnet said.
The biggest complaint for many in the Lower Ninth Ward, also happens to be a major infrastructure and bureaucratic challenge: street repairs.
'The street hasn't been repaired,' said resident Leeonise Smith. 'Our foundation is cracking because of the traffic.'
Newly-elected City Council President Stacy Head organized Saturday's meeting. She said part of the reason for the delays has to do with the way the Federal Stafford Act allows the city to spend FEMA money on Hurricane Katrina-related projects. Head said that needs to change.
'We don't have to use the money specifically for the particular pothole or problem caused because of the storm-- to instead be able to pull that money to make rational street repairs,' she said.
Still, residents remain wary-- since their discontent has not eased over time.
'Big promises,' Smith said. 'Hope that it's carried through.'
'it's just tired,' Spriggens said. 'I'm tired and the people are tired.'
Council President Head said the council members will take the citizen concerns with them back to City Hall and begin taking care of issues like potholes and blight, in order to gain the community's confidence.