Bay St. Louis Neighbors Want Eyesore Property Demolished

Neighbors in Bay St. Louis are determined to clean up an eyesore property at 203 Citizen Street.

The city has declared the dilapidated house a menace and awarded a bid to have it torn down. But the owner seems equally determined to prevent the demolition and clean up.

WLOX News featured the property in a special report on eyesores nearly a year ago.

Neighbors on Citizen Street have been battling the problem for years. A New Year's fire heavily damaged the home 12 years ago. Since then, there's been an ongoing squabble over cleaning up the property.

Property owner, Chris Lagarde, is now challenging the City of Bay St. Louis in court.

Little has changed since we last visited the rundown house nearly a year ago.

"We've tried working with him. We wish we could buy the lot," said neighbor, Pat Cucullu.

She's kept a file of photographs and newspaper clippings for the past dozen years. She says the eyesore is an embarrassment.

"We enjoy our neighborhood. And this thing is just like the wart on the end of your nose. It's very visible. We have tour buses that come through here, because the neighborhood is unique. And then they see this," she said.

Those looking closely see a large hole in the rusted tin roof, a window entrance and a wide open back door. A variety of junk, including an abandoned car, is also scattered about.

The City of Bay St. Louis declared the property a menace in mid October of 2001. The city council advertised for demolition bids the next month, then voted unanimously to award the bid to tear down the structure in January of last year.

Irwin Cucullu is worried about declining property values.

"I own this lot across the street that we keep like a park. It doesn't help to have a neighbor like this," he said.

Along with Pat Cucullu's personal file, there is a 38 page legal file at the Hancock County courthouse tracing the ongoing legal battle between Chris Lagarde and the City of Bay St. Louis.

He filed the initial legal challenge nearly a year ago. The next hearing in the case is set for February 7th.

Ironically, the property owner works for the congressman in the area of environmental concerns. Neighbors may well wonder if it will take an act of Congress to get the mess cleaned up.

"He's doing everything in his power not to tear it down. Not to clean it up. Including taking it to court," said Irwin Cucullu.

We wanted to talk with property owner Chris Lagarde. He has not returned numerous phone calls.