Weeds and Streets
by Keith Burton 9/12/07
Take a drive anywhere along the Coast since hurricane Katrina and it is easy to see that there is a lot that is left to be done to rebuild the Coast. Empty lots, overgrown grass and weeds and desolate slabs still line the beach highway. While the debris is mostly gone, it is depressing to drive on some roads in cities across the Coast, not so much for what has been lost, but by what is being ignored.
While it will clearly be years before much is rebuilt, it has been long enough for residents to put up with street right-of-ways that are filled with dirt and high weeds. The general unkempt look is further aggravating because cities are not keeping the major arteries in shape and it adds to the feeling that nothing is happening to improve our communities.
Throughout Biloxi, for example, it appears that a street sweeper and grass crews have decided to abandon routine road maintenance. Gutters throughout the area are filled with dirt since the storm with grass is growing along the roadways, blocking water drainage and causing street flooding. Towering weeds have overcome sidewalks and line city streets giving nearly the whole town a look that is shameful for a "tourist" community.
This overall unkempt look is affecting people's attitude and it is a simple fix. Some businesses are also to blame. GCN recently noted that the parking lot in front of the Winn Dixie in Biloxi had trash and debris everywhere, even a used condom was part of the mess.
Some businesses are doing there part in keeping the curbs clean and grass cut near their property, but they are surrounded by those that do not. Where is the enforcement of landscaping ordinances? Major corridor roads that people travel everyday that were not flooded by Katrina and do not have wrecked businesses are also being ignored. Pass Road, Popps Ferry Road, Irish Hill Drive, Rodenberg, all have overgrown grass and weeds growing over sidewalks on along the curbs. The dirt that lies next to curbs has become soil deep enough to grow weeds that literally are becoming large shrubs in many locations.
While rebuilding will take time, it is time for Biloxi, and the other Coast cities to pay attention to the smaller details, even the easy fixes that can help our communities look better. If manpower is the issue, than call up volunteers and set a schedule of work to make our roadways and sidewalks reflect that of a community that still has some pride in itself.
Littering laws need to be heavily enforced as well. Everyday, it has become routine for people to trash up streets by throwing debris from cars, even in neighborhoods as they drive through.
Enough is enough. Get the street sweepers back on the roads and get city crews clearing the dirt from the curbs and digging the grass up, and trim the overgrown grass back from sidewalks.
It will take some time for our Coast to be beautiful again in whole, but it shouldn't take FEMA or the federal government to straighten out the smaller things as enforcing landscape ordinances and doing what should be routine street maintenance. This issue needs to be moved up on city government agendas all along the Coast. Isn't that why residents are paying taxes? We know we will have to wait for the big things to be fixed, but waiting on the smaller issues should be a no-brainer for city officials.
Where is your pride of community?