Supervisor leads cause to revamp neighborhood

Published 12:04 am Friday, April 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — City and county officials agree that there are problems in the Roselawn subdivision, and Supervisor Henry Watts said he was going to do something about those problems.

“What you have over there, of course, is unsavory characters moving in there, doing illegal activities, dealing drugs, and that is why they have those attack dogs there,” Watts said. “My intention is to get rid of the drugs and get rid of the dogs in that neighborhood, and make it safe again for elderly people and everybody.”

To help fight street-level criminals, Watts, who owns property in the Roselawn subdivision, said he has talked to the Natchez Police Department’s patrol supervisors about beefing up patrols in the area.

“We use what is called directed patrol,” Police Chief Mike Mullins said. “Sometimes for a specific problem we direct cars to go to an area more often.

“We already do that for Roselawn. We get calls for loud music and young people congregated on a street corner.”

To combat the drug dealers, Watts said he met with Metro Narcotics agents about drug investigations in the Roselawn subdivision.

“He has a legitimate complaint,” Metro Narcotics Commander David Lindsey said. “There is a drug problem in that area and we are working on it as we speak.”

Watts said he also talked to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society and the Natchez animal control officer about the potentially violent and under nourished dogs in the area.

Next on Watts’ list is a fifth step he is considering.

“I may go to the mayor and board of aldermen, where we can do two things,” Watts said. “Step one is draw up an ordinance that absolutely bans attack dogs for the City of Natchez.”

Step two, Watts said, was to hold rental homeowners, who own much of the property in the subdivision, responsible if their tenants are engaged in illegal activity if it can be proven that the homeowner had knowledge of their tenants’ activities.

“I think that it is an excellent idea,” Mullins said. “As long as there is a mechanism to enforce it and the ordinance is written properly.”

Watts said he already had positive reactions from people in the subdivision.

“I have had phone calls with people saying they want to be part of the team,” Watts said. “I’ve had folks on Miller Avenue, North Circle Drive and South Circle Drive call me delighted that something is being done and wanting to join the team to take their neighborhood back.

“They have been living in terror — the drugs are what causes that.”

Watts said he planned to sell his two pieces of property in the area, but he couldn’t with the conditions as they are.

“I have to turn around and spend at least $15,000 on a house right now that has three pit bulls right beside it,” Watts said.

His intentions were to sell the house to people looking to start a family, Watts said.

“Who is going to raise a family with three pit bulls beside them?,” Watts asked. “They are not going to bring a child in that backyard. They are not going to bring their grandmother over.”

Watts said the best way to take back the Roselawn subdivision from the criminals is to report any information you have to law enforcement officials.

Mullins said he agreed that reporting activity is the most important step.

“Whenever you see anything that appears to be suspicious or illegal, please call the police department and report,” Mullins said. “Residents see more than officers driving through do, and we need that information.”

Mullins said information could be called or written in anonymously.

“The quality of life in a neighborhood affects the crime rate as much as anything else,” Mullins said. “Landlords are allowing properties to go into disrepair or become overgrown.”

Mullins said to address complaints about the condition of the properties to City Hall and direct them to code enforcement.