Wednesday, July 21, 2004
A group of men, who are not residents of the Lincoln Garden Apartment Complex at 4125 Sunset Drive, crowd the side of the wide entrance to the complex. They are leaning against their trucks, watching who comes in and out. The manager's office is closed. Children are playing between the buildings. They are trying to walk the edge of the curb, with hands out, using air for balance. But, the main difference between them and their friends who live somewhere else is that if they lose their balance they fall into free-flowing sewage.
Those concrete curbs facilitate the flow of sewage throughout the courtyards between the apartment buildings. The sewage leaks from buildings and runs into the open yard. Missing windowpanes are covered with boards. There are no lights in the parking lot or courtyard; at night, tenants must walk in the dark from car to door. As I took in the harsh realities of what I had heard repeatedly at Jackson City Council meetings, a woman came out and said that I was trespassing and the police would be called if I did not leave.
On July 6, Robert E. Power Jr., owner of Lincoln Garden Apartments, came before the City Council and outlined a plan and timeline for rehabilitating this apartment complex. He also promised that an $8,000 check was in the mail to the water department. However, as of press time, he has not brought a plan before city staff, and the check has not been received.
The city has continued to attempt negotiations with Power; however, nothing has been resolved to date. "We've gone through a number of exchanges with the owner to make payments, and it does not appear that we are going to be able to work anything out," Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said at the July 13 Council meeting.
Power, of Ellis & Associates, owes $20,000 in water bills to the city.
He also is wanted by Hinds County authorities for allegedly writing bad checks. On June 10, a motion was filed in a Hinds County court to revoke his suspended sentence in which he pled guilty and was ordered to pay restitution for a check written to The Thrifty Nickel, a classified newspaper, for more than $1,200. The bad checks written since this court date have been clear violations of his probation, Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said at the City Council meeting.
The options facing the city as of last Wednesday, July 14, were to pass an order to turn off the water and condemn the apartment complex or for Power to come forward with the overdue payment.
Christopher Mims, city spokesman, said mid-morning Monday, July 19: "The lender who provided the current financing for Lincoln Garden Apartments contacted the city of Jackson late last week contending that they wanted to intervene and pay a portion of the water bill to keep the tenants' water on," and as the JFP goes to press on Monday afternoon, the lender and the city are meeting to hammer out the final details of the agreement, and the city is confident that the water will stay on, Sims said.
No word, yet, on the windowpanes or the outdoor lights.