At least two sections of the controversial Newcomb Boulevard fence were removed Tuesday morning, and city officials say the intersection will re-open to two-way traffic in about a week.
An interesting column appeared last month in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled “About that Desire for Streetcars.” Winston-Salem (famous for being the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco) is moving forward with a contentious $179 million boondoggle to build a streetcar line through downtown. And apparently New Orleans’ streetcar system is being cited as an exemplar.
The column, which was written by the aptly-named John Railey, takes the form of a parody of the Tennessee Williams masterpiece “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
“What we really need is a real streetcar line, like the one we had in New Orleans,” says the thickly satirized protagonist. “Such a streetcar line would be worth any cost. It’s just silly that some critics say we should first spruce up and expand the city bus lines. Silly taxpayers, being so pettily pessimistic about the streetcar line prospect.”
The City’s announcement last week that after months of meetings, negotiations were still ongoing with Gatehouse Capital should prompt the New Orleans Building Corporation to re-open the bid process and invite new proposers.
This is especially true with several new Council and NOBC members coming on board in a few weeks and the change of NOBC leadership when Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant moves on to the Sewerage & Water Board. With the multi-million dollar high-end outlet mall by the Howard Hughes Corporation set to open at the Riverwalk next month, the WTC development project would attract new bidders – possibly including the Hughes group. Hughes’ portfolio is very diverse and the WTC could be a good fit for them, especially if they do not choose to build condos or a hotel on top of the Riverwalk in a second phase.
What will become of the controversial iron gate blocking the boulevard at Freret Street remains unclear, however. Unlike most City Planning decisions, Tuesday’s vote will not automatically be forwarded to the City Council for review — though officials said it was unclear whether additional avenues remain open for the Newcomb residents.
Dianne Honoré has been a French Quarter tour guide off and on for more than 20 years; and this, she said, is the worst it’s ever been.
“My heart breaks when I walk through the French Quarter sometimes,” Honoré said sipping a coffee in Treme Café on St. Philip Street. “It disgusts me the lack of protection, the level of filth.”
Honoré is talking about the all-time high population of “gutter punks” that blanket the French Quarter. The gutter punk colonies run along the river, along Decatur Street. The 500 block of Bourbon Street is a gutter-punk haven; basically all over the French Quarter is, she said.
City officials approved a developer’s request Monday to tear down the Roly Poly building on Tchoupitoulas, to the dismay of the restaurant’s current employees, but the new bank intended for the site is still lacks permission to tear down an adjacent house.
The entrepreneurship boom in New Orleans is a real phenomenon, and a crucial factor in the city’s continued rebirth — but it must also be accompanied by more economic opportunities for the unsustainable number of jobless African-American men in the city, a panel of business leaders said Thursday evening.
“We can get there,” said Rod Miller, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “We are a ‘new’ New Orleans, but we’re not our best New Orleans.”
Opponents of the controversial Newcomb Boulevard fence have won a preliminary round in the fight over the street’s future, as city planners are recommending against its sale and closure to the public.
New Orleans Police Lt. Shaun Ferguson — essentially second-in-command in the Uptown-based Second District — was promoted to commander of the Algiers-based Fourth District over the weekend, departmental officials said.
Residents of the City Council District B — which spans most of Uptown and the Central Business District from Jefferson Avenue to Canal Street, and also includes part of Mid-City — are invited to a hospitality tent at Wednesdays at the Square this week, hosted by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and featuring food by John Besh’s restaurant Luke.
This week, I spotted two pieces of news that become quite unnerving when placed together.
First, this legislative session, no fewer than four lawmakers have filed bills seeking to authorize off-duty police officers to carry firearms in bars. The move comes in reaction to an opinion issued last summer by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in which he advised that the practice is technically illegal under an existing Louisiana statute.
Secondly, former 6th District New Orleans police officer Desmond Pratt was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Pratt owed his light sentence to the reluctance of the victims to testify, a common factor in rape and incest cases.
For years, chef Greg Sonnier fought to reopen his old Mid-City restaurant Gabrielle in a banquet hall on Henry Clay Avenue known as the Uptowner, but neighbors eventually convinced the New Orleans City Council to keep the building zoned residential, and Sonnier moved on to become executive chef at the new French Quarter restaurant Kingfish.
Now, Sonnier says he has a plan for The Uptowner that will suit both him and the building’s residential zoning: The Orleans Parish Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative. Local and state corrections officials, however, say they are not involved in or aware of the project.
A long-promised community center slated for west Carrollton received another extension from the New Orleans City Council Thursday afternoon, but the years-old controversy over its management flared again amid traded accusations of secret agendas.
In the last 50 years, there have been many Directors of Aviation at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport but few about whom there was any urgency to retain them. But the current Director of Aviation, Iftikhar Ahmad, is one of the hottest guys in the nation in his field of work and the New Orleans Aviation Board is giving him a $35,000 a year raise that he didn’t ask for because they want to keep him here.
Restaurateur Ti Martin, a member of the Aviation Board, says, “He has come to have a lot of affection for New Orleans and the region and we need to lock him to finish what he has started.”
After years of court battles, the proposed sale of Newcomb Boulevard between St. Charles Avenue and Freret Street is headed to the City Planning Commission in less than two weeks, and those who have fought to have the street reopened are hoping to rally public opinion to their side with a quickly organized campaign.
On March 16, a Riverbend family awoke to the sound of someone trying to break in their front door, but could not get 911 operators to pick up when they called for help, according to a report by Tania Dall of our partners at WWL-TV. The family’s barking dog eventually scared the would-be intruder away, and it was not until the victims called the NOPD Second District station directly that they were able to contact a police officer, Dall reports.
For the sequel to his autobiographical play “Reflections,” former City Council president Oliver Thomas has invited two other former New Orleans elected officials to join the cast — former City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and former school board president Gail Glapion, according to Alex Woodward of our partners at Gambit. “Reflections 2″ runs April 11-27 at Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 South Carrollton Avenue.
The Audubon Nature Institute will not file its first campaign-finance report until April 24, more than a month after the March 15 election it was advertising for, because it is not reporting any spending prior to Feb. 21, according to a report by Tyler Bridges of The Lens. Its activities prior to that date — including creation of a website called VoteYesForAudubon.com — were “part of a ‘branding campaign’ that did not specifically advocate the tax,” Audubon’s attorney told The Lens, though at least one critic says that the lack of disclosure allows Audubon to “circumvent” campaign finance laws intended to let the public know who is spending money to influence elections.
Over the next year and a half, the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans will replace all the city’s water meters with new models that can be read remotely, eliminating the need for meter readers and allowing residents to monitor their usage in real time, according to a recent report by Della Hasselle of our sister site at MidCityMessenger.com. The utility is also moving toward entire water line replacements instead of “point repairs” on lines that break to reduce the amount of leakage across the system.