Area leaders may seek court action to stop Parkview “nuisance”

Representatives of the Turrentine family, the millionaire slum lords who operate Standard Enterprises may face legal action from the city of Monroe if safety procedures are not put in place to reduce the violence and drugs associated with Parkview Apartments.

That was the outcome of a meeting held on November 5th between representatives of the City of Monroe the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Monroe Police Department, and Congressman Dr. Ralph Abraham.

The officials met with the owners and operators of Parkview Apartments on November 5, 2020, to address ongoing issues of violence and threats to
public safety at the apartment complex. Mayor Friday Ellis and Congressman Abraham stressed to the owners that violence and criminal activity at the complex must end and demanded action from Parkview’s proprietors.

Community activists who have repeatedly appeared before the City Council complaining about Parkview violence applaud the intent of the action, but question whether or not the city is prepared to relocate nearly 1,000 residents to other housing if the city gets a court order to shut down the facility.

Activist Marie Brown said the action is a needed first step, but the city should direct its efforts toward cutting off federal funding for Parkview. If that is done, Brown said HUD will give resident section 8 vouchers to find other housing.

“The relocation plan needs to be in place before they seek an injunction because they have let it go unaddressed for so long, there will probably be more incidents. The city shouldn’t bluff, if Standard Enterprises calls its bluff, it should make preparations to relocate tenants quickly. They should remember that all Parkview residents are not violent or criminals. If the city goes the court order route, they should have a plan for housing over 1,000 people in a hurry.”

Damien Coleman, another activist dealing with the Parkview violence, said the tough talk might be enough to push the Turrentine family to take action, but what they understand is money. He said the city should push federal officials to void the company’s HUD contract and switch its owners.

Sheriff Jay Russell said Thursday that in the past the owners have had security on the site and exercised more control.

The area’s leaders want the Turrentine to take action to make the housing complex safe or possibly face city initiated legal action.

The City served a formal letter of notice today on the owners and operators stating that legal action is imminent if the company does not take immediate action to reduce the occurrence of “prohibited activities,” most of which are serious crimes and drug offenses, at the complex.

According to the City’s letter, the apartments “have been used for prohibited activities and are in violation of state law.” The letter says, “The past and continuing occurrences of prohibited activities at this location renders the premises subject to an action for abatement of a public
nuisance.” Under state law, “prohibited activity” is defined as a crime of violence, any crime involving illegal carrying or discharge of a weapon, felony theft or illegal possession of stolen things, and also the illegal manufacture, sale, or distribution of, or possession with intent to
manufacture, sell, or distribute, a controlled dangerous substance.

“The situation at Parkview is deplorable and has put a tremendous strain on the residents and law enforcement for more than 20 years,” said Mayor Friday Ellis. “The safety and security of the residents of Parkview is our number one priority. We believe it is time for the owners to take
whatever steps necessary to do their part to put a stop to crime in this complex and protect the health and safety of their residents.”

The City’s letter includes a statistical report of violent and other crimes that have occurred at Parkview, located at 1101 Richwood Road, during the preceding five-year period. The report lists hundreds of potential instances of “prohibited activities” that have taken place in Parkview and mentions several specific examples:

• Ten (10) homicides through September 2020, which does not include an additional, recent homicide on November 1, 2020.
• Twenty-two (22) instances of shooting or “shots fired.”
• Sixteen (16) events classified as “armed robbery.”
• At least fifteen (15) drug and narcotics investigations/arrests; and
• One hundred (100) instances of potentially qualifying assaults and batteries.

The City is demanding that the owners and management team act to abate the “public nuisance” at Parkview and has served notice that any further occurrences of prohibited activities may result in the City filing a petition for injunction or order of abatement in the Fourth Judicial District Court. The letter states, “If changes are not made immediately to end prohibited activities in Parkview Apartments, the City will have no choice but to seek to force that change through the court system.”

“We have clearly stated we plan to take immediate action to end the violence at Parkview,” said Monroe Police Chief Vic Zordan. “We believe requiring the apartment owners to take action is a necessary first step. Our plans to address violent crime there will involve multiple stakeholders if
we are to make a significant difference.”