HARVEY, La. -- The demolition of a blighted and abandoned building in Harvey's Woodmere Subdivision is giving neighbors new hope. They say every bite of the back hoe takes a bite out of crime in their Westbank neighborhood.
"These old buildings here have been harboring a lot of people that's been doing a lot of things against the law," said Henry Jones. "They run in there and get away with it. One day they had some kids in there that were throwing rocks at cars that were passing."
Friday, Jefferson Parish made good on its promise to demolish the empty apartment building in the 2600 block of Destrehan Avenue. It's one of several blighted properties not far from where six-year old Ahlittia North was stabbed to death last month. Neighbors found her body in a trash can two blocks away.
"This has been a long time coming," said Kipp Johnson, a member of the Woodmere Neighborhood Association. "It goes to show when a community comes together we can make things happen."
"I'm glad they're tearing them down," said Jones. "I commend the parish, John Young and all the members of the council for what they did."
A recent fire inspection showed the property qualified as a "grave public emergency."
Parish leaders vow to speed up the time it takes to fight the blight.
"This should be a warning to any dead beat landlord or property owner, if you don't maintain your property, this is what's going to happen," said Council Chairman Chris Roberts.
This is the first of of 10 abandoned buildings the parish would like to tear down in the immediate area. Neighbors say they would like to replace the blight with a playground in memory of Ahlittia North.
"First thing we come into, driving into our community as you see, blight, in the forefront, so why not have something positive, like a playground for the kids," said Johnson. "What better example to show our love and our concern for what happened to the little girl and to help uplift the neighborhood."
Several other abandoned buildings in Woodmere are expected to be the focus of demolition hearings over the next couple of weeks.