Mayor Wharton, DA's office team up to fight blight in Frayser - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor Wharton, DA's office team up to fight blight in Frayser

(WMC-TV) - Blight is a reality for the children in the Frayser community, who stumble through filth every day on their way to class.

"Why do we have crime?" asked Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.  "This is just the Statue of Liberty to criminals."

The Wharton administration and the district attorney's office are joining forces to battle blight.

In order to hold property owners accountable, Wharton said the city has been forced to chase property owners from Florida to California.

"If they were drug dealers, we could understand why they are just hiding," said Wharton.  "But if you're just an honest American, why don't you come on out and show your face?"

The city said two-thirds of the 138 lawsuits filed in 2010 have resulted in demolition or rehabilitation of those properties.  Eighty-six more lawsuits will be filed in Shelby County Environmental Court on Wednesday.

"People probably say, well, more talk, more talk, more talk," said Wharton, "but no, this action and the lawsuits will be filed."

Stonie Fitzgerald was given a second chance out of prison and works for the blight patrol.

"My background wouldn't allow me to get work through the normal avenues, and by being in the blight patrol, it has allowed me to help my community and provide for myself and my children," said Fitzgerald.

Jessie Binion said he has lived in Frayser for 30 years, and enough is enough.

"I'd like to see them torn down and demolished," said Binion.

Binion said he remembers when residents took pride in the community.  He said he has now made it a priority to police abandoned properties.

"I've been working on this for the last year and a half, and I've been trying to get things done, and so far it's working," said Binion.  "I've seen results from it."

Wharton said part of the proceeds from the lawsuits will go toward finding more property owners.

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