City panel to discuss property standards in wake of child's death

City panel to discuss property standards in wake of child's death
Drainage safety is expected to be discussed when Shreveport's property standards committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21. (Source: KSLA News 12)
Drainage safety is expected to be discussed when Shreveport's property standards committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21. (Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A city committee will take a look at property standards in the wake of the death of a 7-year-old boy in Shreveport's Ingleside neighborhood.

Just days after Daysean Conbest was laid to rest, KSLA News 12 has learned that City Council members are looking at whether more action can be taken to help prevent such tragedies.

"One side of town is taken care of on a schedule… maintained. If you look at ditches it looks like a baby's bottom. There's no grass, no accumulated water, no overgrown trees. You see none of that."

Conbest disappeared Aug. 1 into a rain-swollen ditch near his home on Orla Avenue between Quinton and Emery streets.

Two days later, his body was found about three miles downstream.

Residents feel the tragedy happened because parks, in neighborhoods like the one Conbest once lived, were in poor condition.

"When you go on 70th street the parks are beautiful, you got slides, you have all type of things for the kids to do - you can go around the corner from us -- the grass stands taller than me, it's not a safe environment for our kids it looks horrible," said Beatrious Lanier, a Mooretown resident.

Shreveport City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch says she has been expressing these concerns to the mayor's office for some time.

"People think Shreveport is just Youree drive and East Kings Highway... When I go into that side of town, I feel like I'm in a different city than when I come into the inner city. It's two Shreveports and I've been saying this for a while," Lynch said.

The Shreveport property standards department's prime responsibility is to "protect the safety and welfare of the community by working to reverse and alter trends of deterioration in our neighborhoods," according to the city's website.

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, whose District F includes the area where the child was lost, says the city's property standards committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 to discuss ways in which they can improve low-income areas. Lynch says she plans on bringing up issues such as park maintenance, bulk cleanup, and the removal of abandoned houses.

"If you have more dilapidated houses then you have police -- that's a problem. You can't have enough police to make these structures not be havens for criminal activity...We're not putting the resources there to get that done," Lynch stated.

The mayor's office has responded to Lynch's claims. In a statement she said,

"The Tyler administration has addressed issues in all districts throughout the city with available resources.  The aging infrastructure and blight have been in some communities for decades; consequently, we are unable to resolve all of the issues in two and a half years.  However, specifically, regarding District F, Councilwoman Lynch's district, this administration has spent  tens of millions of dollars on infrastructure, renovation of community centers, maintenance, property standards enforcement, etc.  Please refer to the attachment entitled "2015 Department Accomplishments by Council Districts and the link below for accomplishments by departments for each district for 2016.  You would need to see what each department has expended to get a total for District F.  From January of 2015 – December of 2016, we have expended approximately $12 million on district improvements and projects for District  F.  This figure does not include the $69 million dollars in sewer consent decree projects that have been completed or are ongoing in that district since 2016. Consequently, this administration has invested more than $80 million dollars in District F."

In addition to the area being an eyesore, Lynch says unkempt drainage ditches are also believed to be a haven for criminal activity.

"Criminals are using them to hide items, to evade police, so when you talk about crime, it's not just patrolling its all of these things that impact crime. The dilapidated structures, the ditches that may obscure criminal activity and we have to look at it comprehensively," Lynch said.

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