NFB General Meeting August 1, 2018
Called to order at 7:08PM by Brian Luckett, treasurer.
Brian introduced NOPD 5th District Commander Frank Young.
Commander Young noted a spike in robberies that has slowed since July 24th, and mentioned there had been some arrests connected with some of them. Two juveniles were arrested that were involved in numerous car thefts in the area, among other crimes. One of them is named Washington Wells, and has what Commander Young referred to as a “juvenile life sentence”. Another individual, named Kurt Johnson, was arrested for “crimes of violence”, and has since gotten out on bail. After his release NOPD was able to connect some robberies to him but he can’t be located now. There was some discussion of people having garbage cans stolen. One attendee mentioned that some are being “borrowed” by scavengers, and they are usually found a few blocks away.
Commander Young then addressed the ongoing problems at the old NSA building, including trespassing and vandalism. He mentioned he noticed the water leak that was a problem for a long time had been fixed. He has sent a SWAT team to the buildings for training exercises and they did make some arrests. He lamented the fact the the NOPD does not have the time or resources to keep the property secure. Most of the violent crimes in our area are armed robberies, and many elsewhere in the 5th district are even worse crimes, like shootings. They have to prioritize. He said he had spoken to Councilmember Palmer about the NSA recently, and she is interested in helping police get some answers as to who is responsible for securing the property. Commander Young reiterated that his officers simply do not have the time for it as they have to focus more on violent crimes.
An attendee described an alarming run-in with an intruder at his house on the 600 block of France St. The gentleman expressed his frustration associated with the police response, apparently due to the crime taking place during the shift change, and was also upset his wife got a citation for driving the wrong way down the block as they chased the intruder, who ultimately got away. Commander Young wanted more information and they spoke privately after the presentation.
Brian asked Commander Young if he was aware of any illegal activity at the old St. Margarets building (3419 St. Claude Ave.). The building is currently covered in graffiti and it is suspected that it has been broken into. Commander Young said he was not aware of it, but will look into it. He mentioned he had noticed homeless people have been moving closer to St Claude from the Claiborne area. The city has a clean up team, including social workers, police, and sanitation trucks, that pick up furniture and things to try and move homeless people from places they camp, but they can’t stop them from coming back.
Another attendee asked if there were any updates regarding an armed robbery on the 3800 block of Rampart St. Commander Young said they had made several arrests they think may be connected. One suspect was Kurt Johnson, who he had mentioned before was out on bail and now apparently on the run.
Commander Young was thanked for his time.
Willie Smith, a superintendent from Cimarron, was then introduced. Cimarron is the contractor hired by Entergy to replace the old gas lines all over the city. This project is the reason there have been holes in the sidewalks all over the neighborhood. The old cast iron lines are cracked and rusty and have lots of water in them, so must be replaced. The work has been going on for two years so far and they still have lots of streets left to finish. Holes on the corners usually have to stay open longer as the new high pressure gas lines need to be fed in with their machines going both ways down the street. Entergy tells the crew which areas to concentrate on at any given time, and if the river is over 11 feet the Army Corps of Engineers requires them to stop any work from Burgundy St down to Chartres St., which can slow them down significantly. Mr. Smith said they are very careful with plants and trees, and if there are any issues to contact him if there is damage that needs to be fixed. His number is (504)609-9115.
Mr. Smith was then joined by Jeff Gentry, the district manager, who was late to the meeting. They answered several personal inquiries as to when work would be completed in certain locations, and Mr. Gentry was writing down street names and phone numbers to follow up. They explained that the new meters would be going in some time next year after the new lines are in, but they are probably not contracted for that job. The new meters will be automatically read by satellite. They put in the new line up to a “gas riser”, which includes a pressure regulator, next to homes. They want to work with residents to be sure the risers are in good locations, as they know some houses are close together and we need to get through with garbage cans, etc… If residents have issues with the locations of the new risers they can call Mr. Smith or Mr. Gentry. Mr. Gentry’s number is (504)241-6831 (office) or (913)207-4005. They want to be sure the work is done right and continue to make a sincere effort to work with residents. Many people have been out of town so they have not been able to check with them regarding work as it proceeds. Once the new meters are in the gas will have to be turned off while the new meter is attached and someone will have to enter residents’ homes to light pilots before service can be restored. Mr. Smith and Mr. Gentry were thanked for their time, and they stayed to speak with people individually.
Allison Cormier from The Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office then addressed the group and encouraged us to apply to be resident volunteers for the Police-Community Advisory Board (PCAB). The PCAB program has an advisory board for each police district and each board has seven members. They have quarterly meetings and make requests to the police for things they think need attention in their neighborhoods. Open enrollment ends September 8th. More info can be found at https://www.nola.gov/neighborhood-engagement/projects/new-orleans-police-community-advisory-board-(pcab)/
Mary Cunningham from Councilmember Palmer’s office then introduced herself to the group, and wanted us to know she was present and taking notes she would share with Ms. Palmer. She was thanked!
Meeting ended at 8:01 PM
Submitted by Tyler Harwood, co-secretary