NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A $5 million road restoration and boat launch project nears completion along New Orleans Lake at Breakwater Drive, but people waiting for a plan redevelopment for the entire West End area will have to wait a bit longer.
“It’s been a really good job here, you have a bike path, you come here and you see sunsets, it’s quiet and peaceful,” said Charles Marsala, of the band ‘Keep Open Space At West End’. .
The new boat ramp is installed, along with a footpath, but the road to ‘The Point’ remains in poor condition, and when you reach West End…desolation. An area that once thrived as a major entertainment district has never returned since Katrina, and a plan to redevelop it has stalled.
“It’s about making sure we’ve taken care of all the documentation so that when we go public and start the solicitation process, we want to make sure everything is done publicly,” the member of the board said. Council Joe Giarusso.
The former 4.2-acre parking lot straddles the Orleans-Jefferson parish line, and setting up a government entity to take proposals is taking longer than expected.
“There are two different things, one was Covid, and then we decided we needed to expand CEA between Orleans Parish and Jefferson,” Giarusso said.
Longtime residents have fond memories of what was once here and look forward to some type of redevelopment.
“If it were to rebuild here, you’d be having a great time again,” said Allen Mackenroth, a longtime resident of the area.
But while some would like to see West End return to what it once was, others would like it to return to its original use.
“We have a bird sanctuary here and when we get a three-on-one game, we might just keep it a bird sanctuary,” Marsala said.
The Army Corps of Engineers prohibits anyone from building anything in the lake on the docks due to the new pumphouse. Marsala says new hurricane-proof building standards requiring a 17-foot rise would make restaurants or bars cost prohibitive.
“If you look at life in the area has changed, we have to let it go,” Marsala said.
This is something many people with fond memories of the old West End would struggle to do.
“If it were to rebuild here, we would have good times again,” Mackenroth said.
But, after repeated delays, supporters of a new multi-jurisdictional committee could start exploring redevelopment options by the end of the year.
Proponents of open space in the West End say a 1906 law may still apply which established the area as a park.
Jefferson Parish Councilmember Jennifer Van Vrancken also worked on the Cooperative Effort Agreement to begin taking proposals for West End redevelopment. She also thinks they could start by the end of the year.
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