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Tall grass on city-owned property sparks new complaints

CITY HALL – North St. Louis residents are once again complaining about the lack of lawn and brush upkeep on the city’s Land Reutilization Authority properties.

The city cuts the grass twice a year – once, April through June, then again July through October – according to Alan Jankowski, commissioner of Forestry, in an interview earlier this year. 

Koran Addo, director of communications for the office of the mayor, fielded questions from The NorthSider last Wednesday and said Jankowski too would be available for an interview. 

“It comes down to money and manpower,” was Addo’s answer to why the Forestry division cuts the city’s properties only twice year.  

“Nobody wants to work in the summer when it’s hot outside,” Addo said, also pointing to a lack of equipment and the high number of vacant lots. 

He offered the city’s job hotline number and website. Respectively, they are: 314-622-4308 and stlouis-mo.gov/jobs. 

On Monday, Noe Gonzalez, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s liaison to the Board of Aldermen, called The NorthSider, saying that Jankowski was out of town. In a subsequent, agreed-upon email statement, Gonzalez wrote: 

“Currently, the City is on its third cut rotation of the year for lots with buildings, and the commissioner of forestry anticipates that we will begin a fourth rotation by the end of the cutting season.”  

He also said the city was on its fifth cut rotation of the year for vacant lots.

That’s good news to residents such as Annette Summers. However, she said she found it hard to believe that it was difficult for the city to hire people to work in the Forestry department.

“A lot of people out here need jobs,” she said, suggesting that the city hire ex-offenders. 

Another city resident, Wesley Grant, suggested that the city make the Forestry crew positions year-round. 

“They have the money now,” he said referring to the city’s 2018 budget surplus, upwards of $20 million. 

Grant said he had been cutting the LRA property next to his well-manicured lawn for at least seven years. 

Now, he said, he is tired of cutting and is moving. 

“It’s embarrassing. I have parties and gatherings, but I have to go next door and cut the grass first,” he said. 

The lot next to Summers is too large for her to cut, she said, but she cuts the yards of elderly neighbors, explaining that otherwise the city would fine them. 

“They [the city] let their properties get as high as they want to, but they fine us if ours get too high [above seven inches],” she said, adding that she didn’t think that was fair. 

Grant said that even after city crews cut the grass on the property next to his house, he had to complete it because it was, allegedly, such a poor job. 

“We have to complete the cut – they just knock it down; they cut it, but don’t rake it, and we get tired of raking it. It’s ridiculous,” Grant said. 

Forestry crews cut the yard next door to him last week. He suggested that this reporter walk around the side and rear of the LRA property. The perusal revealed uncut and unsightly high grass and shrubbery.

Residents can report high grass and weeds to the city by calling 314-622-4800. 

Bill Beene

bill.beene@thenorthsider.com Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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