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Neighborhood Group Begins 25-Square-Block Blight Strategy

August 24, 2011

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. joined community members from Mallory Heights Wednesday morning as they began a 25-square-block canvas of their neighborhood, jotting down addresses of overgrown yards, blighted property, and even holes in the sidewalk.

Faced with a backlog of complaints and a particularly hardy type of weed this summer, the City’s Community Enhancement division is partnering with 10 neighborhoods to help keep weeds at bay in 25-square-block areas.

“It’s unfair for people with a beautiful home, perfectly maintained, to have to look out their windows at the house across the street and see weeds so high you can’t see the front door,” said Mayor Wharton. “This gets citizens involved, and that’s the important part.”

Each neighborhood group will canvas a 25-square-block area and submit all the addresses with overgrown lots at one time.

Property owners then will have eight days to take care of the problem; on the eighth, crews from Community Enhancement will go out into the neighborhood to cut all the overgrown lots at once. The city expects to be able to take care of each 25-square-block area in a day.

As opposed to previous efforts when crews would tackle one lot in a neighborhood at a time – using a schedule based on when the complaint was called in – the 25-square-block strategy should allow residents to enjoy a more concentrated effect on their neighborhoods.

Community Enhancement also says the strategy will be a more efficient use of their crews and equipment.

“It’s a massive effort,” said Mayor Wharton. “But they will know we were there.”

The 10 pilot neighborhoods are Mallory Heights, Orange Mound, Red Oaks, Westwood, Frayser, Douglass, Southeast Memphis, Soulsville, Klondike/Smokey City, and Mitchell Heights.

Over the next month, the city expects to be able to clean up 275 square blocks.

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