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Signs go up at abandoned Naval base - neighbors hopeful for change

'No trespassing' signs have gone up at the abandoned and blighted Naval base on Poland Avenue.

NEW ORLEANS — Neighbors are cautiously optimistic as no trespassing signs go up at the blighted and abandoned navy base on Poland Avenue in the Bywater.

Few think the posters alone will keep anyone from entering the old naval facility,

Some of the signs are even posted next to wide-open gates and large gaps in the fence.

But this is expected to be the first step in what could be a major enforcement action at the base in the coming weeks.

It won’t come soon enough for Joe Brown who lives around the corner from the troubled complex.

“Besides being an eyesore, it’s a magnet for crime,” Brown said. “If you walk in there, you’ll see works for shooting up all over the place. It’s been terrible for the neighborhood.”

There have been at least two separate shootings at the facility in as many weeks.

Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell promised a sweep of the facility is imminent.

“There will be one happening this week,” Cantrell said. “We go in there with all hands-on deck from the health department, from housing of course and NOPD, fire, you name it.”

She also placed blame on the city-chosen developer at the site, Joe Jaeger for not securing the property.

The Navy gave the facility to the city in a pristine condition more than a decade ago.

The latest proposal is for the complex to be transformed into a mixed-use development with affordable housing attached.

One man who lives in the homeless encampment says they were given 20 days to leave.

“Then the police have to come take us out of there,” James “Preacher” Warpup said. “Jail becomes a problem at that point. It’s not good. Kicking us out of here, the neighborhood thinks it’s a good thing, good they’ll be out of there, no we’ll be in the neighborhood. It’s a problem. We have to find another solution, not another problem.”

Brown says the Navy base is clearly at a tipping point.

“If you stand here long enough, you will see bicycles that have little trailers behind them full of things that they’ve stolen from people in the neighborhood,” Brown said. “It’s been going on for way too long.”

According to the mayor, the developer expects to get the green light on Housing and Urban Development financing in the next couple of months.

Until then, she wants the buildings boarded up and the property secured.

Joe Jaeger and his company MCC Group have ignored multiple requests for comment.

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