Brumfield is sad spot for city leaders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Brumfield School on St. Catherine Street was once touted as a great example of public-private partnerships in Natchez.

In the early 1990s, the City of Natchez set about making something positive out of large, unused municipal buildings (LUMPS).

Its refurbishment turned an eyesore into a building with a purpose — providing low-income residents affordable housing.

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From outside appearances, it was a great success. The building’s transformation was one of several reasons Natchez earned the Most Livable City Award in 2001.

In recent years, however, something has gone terribly wrong at Brumfield.

The once pristine building is now more akin to a third-world country than something once touted as a great accomplishment for the city. That conditions in Brumfield have deteriorated so badly is deplorable.

As early as last summer, city code enforcement officers were raising red flags to city leaders.

Residents complained of horrible maintenance and poor living conditions.

Their complaints prompted the city to discuss the matter with the management company, which evidently did little to nothing to resolve the problems.

Late last month a letter to residents informed them that the management company planned to abandon the property, leaving residents in a lurch.

It’s easy for critics to blame the victims in such cases and throw responsibility to the less-fortunate residents of the apartment complex. While they may share a portion of the blame, the bulk lands squarely on the management company who let the building spiral out of hand and the city leaders who stood by and watched it happen.