Overgrown Lots Cause Security Concerns

An eyesore in one Omaha neighborhood has neighbors concerned about more than just the look of some lots near 15th and Corby.

Annette Johnson says the overgrown lots next door are vacant but frequently occupied by transients. Her concern has intensified recently after a sexual assault on a homeless woman in the vacant lot across the street. Police were called to the location by a neighbor.

In the summer, neighbors say homeless people move into the lots. They use the areas as spots to lounge. The grass is matted down and trash litters the lots.

Most mind their own business but one transient says the area can be dangerous because people walking through the tall grass don't know who else is lurking there. Neighbors say a mower would make them feel safer in the neighborhood.

"If the weeds weren't here, they'd be out in the open and they probably wouldn't be here," says Julie Demkowski, who lives in the area.

A Fact Finders check of the assessor's map shows seven overgrown lots. Two are owned by the city of Omaha.

"This is disgraceful," Annette says.

Annette and Julie say they felt safe growing up in this neighborhood, but now their sense of security is lost in the weeds.

Fact Finders contacted city officials about the overgrown lots. Just two hours after our call, a Parks Department mower arrived and cut down the weeds on all the lots, both the city-owned lots and the privately-owned ones. Annette says the lawns had gone unmowed all year before Fact Finders made some calls.

"I'm very glad, I'm very happy. It's been a long time coming," she says. "Finally, at last. I didn't know I was gonna have to go through all of this and contact Six On Your Side to get any results. But I'm glad I did."

Annette says she's also seen an increased police presence in the area to discourage any illegal activity. However, it remains a popular gathering spot for transients.

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