City finally takes down excessive weed, grass growth on problem property

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ST. LOUIS - It was the most overgrown backyard you might ever see: weeds up to 10-feet high in south St. Louis.

Those weeds were gone Friday morning after a Fox2/News11 report on Thursday.

“I got up at 7:30 (a.m.) and looked at it to see what was going on and they were practically done,” neighbor Joyce Rheinhardt said.

The St. Louis City Forestry Department showed up bright and early to take down the massive weeds. Suddenly, Joyce could see her house from the alley again from behind 3235 Liberty, the house that had all the weeds. They hadn't been cut since last summer, neighbors said.

Records showed a complaint logged with the Citizens Service Bureau on June 2. It was forwarded to the Forestry Department and put in the rotation to be mowed, a city official said. Somehow, it was wrongly listed as “abated” or taken care of in the city records. So the weeds kept growing. And fears grew with them.

“I’ve never seen a yard so high in my life,” said neighbor Juanita Hendrix. “I was afraid there might be something in here that might bite me.”

The Forestry Department reports its workers mow the yards at the majority of the city’s estimated 9,000 vacant buildings, along with an estimated 10,000 vacant lots. Workers are stretched thin and try to mow around the buildings at least 3 times-per-summer; 7 times for vacant lots.

Residents were beyond grateful for the first cut of the summer on Liberty.

“This was the eyesore of the whole neighborhood,” Rheinhardt said. “I am very happy with it. Hallelujah!”

According to the Forestry Department, the city bills negligent property owners $108-per-hour for mowing. The department city was able to reach and bill the owner of 3235 Liberty: ELEL Investments LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona. Records show ELEL bought the property out of foreclosure.

The forestry department reports the city spends about $1.2 million a year mowing vacant properties, but recoups less than 20 percent of the bills.