The floors may still have soft spots and the roof may still leak, but at least the officers at the century-old Second District police station now have a decent place to change clothes or use the restroom, thanks to a donation from prominent New Orleans attorney Morris Bart.
“They put their lives on the line,” Bart said. “If what I can do makes their lives a little easier and shows that, ‘Yes, we do appreciate what they do for us and for the people of New Orleans,’ then it’s my pleasure.”
The deplorable condition of the substation on Magazine Street — with widespread termite damage and a structure so unsound that officers decamp to local hospitals to weather tropical storms — is well known among city officials, but a problem with no immediate solution on the horizon. With fundraisers and private donations, the COPS 2 citizen’s support group for Second District police has paid for numerous renovations over the years, and late last year Bart asked how he could lend a hand as well.
After consulting with the officers and Second District leadership, Bart decided the upgrades that would go the farthest toward making the station “livable” for those who work there would be renovations to the locker room and restrooms, he said Tuesday morning during a tour of the completed project with NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Second District Commander Paul Noel. The renovation project cost about $30,000, Bart said.
“The changes we’ve brought into the Second District station helps the officers to have a more professional work environment, helps these officers to perform in a more professional environment, and most importantly, they see the evidence that the people in this community want to support the police officers,” Serpas said.
The building dates back to the late 1800s and previously held a fire station and a jail, Noel said, and this isn’t the first time Bart has gotten involved: In the 1990s, Bart paid for construction of two small outbuildings that could also be used as much-needed office space. Having new bathrooms will be just as welcome, Noel said.
“Those bathrooms, if they would have been in the parish prison, they wouldn’t have been able to use them,” Noel joked.