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Green spaces

June 8, 2017: The city Department of Parks and Parkways is exploring artificial turf or other methods to protect the grass cover in the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground from both daily use by runners and large crowds at Mardi Gras parades. The department asked for $2 million in 2016 for the project, but the City Council did not fund it, and Parks and Parkways then dropped the request from its 2017 list of proposals in order to do more research into the cost efficiency the idea.

June 2, 2017: The New Orleans Recreation Department Commission has also dropped its budget request for a dog park in Annunciation Square, after some of the nearest neighbors raised objections to the plan earlier this year.

Meanwhile, public pools around the city opened Friday, June 2, for the summer aquatics season.

The cast of "The Spider Queen,” an original play written by James Bartelle and Alex Martinez Wallace, rehearses the opening sequence in the sculpture garden at City Park. (Claire Byun, MidCityMessenger.com)

June 1, 2017: City Park has requested $25 million from the city for three projects: improving stormwater drainage, repaving Roosevelt Mall and renovating three minor buildings.

Previously: City Park has enough money budgeted to give its employees a pay raise, but cannot -- because the state legislature passed an order prohibiting it.

June 1, 2017: The Audubon Commission repeated its request to the city for $5 million to assist with the construction of a new "Africa: Predators" exhibit that will feature the return of lions to the Audubon Zoo.

May 22, 2017: After city officials levied a $20,000 fee for use of the land around Bayou St. John for the 12th annual Bayou Boogaloo, the Mothership Foundation is seeking an agreement to pay $5,000 per year instead toward tree upkeep and litter abatement along the bayou. Festival organizers told the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association they are considering creating an admissions charge.

April 20, 2017: A blighted former Times-Picayune warehouse at 2720 St. Louis Street on the Lafitte Greenway will become a mix of offices, retail and possibly eateries in a $4 million project by the New Orleans Redevelopment Fund with a hopeful completion date of early 2018.

Homicides and New Orleans crime

June 6, 2017: Three people were killed and two were injured in a shooting Saturday on Tulane Avenue in Mid-City, prompting outcry from residents, business owners and city officials.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks with the New Orleans Police Department’s First District after repeated violence along the Tulane corridor left several people dead. (Claire Byun, MidCityMessenger.com)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison attended a meeting of the NOPD First District supervisors on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

On Monday evening, the Mid-City Tulane Banks Neighborhood Association held a meeting on violent crime with Hans Ganthier, commander of the NOPD First District.

“Our neighborhood is not seeing an uptick in crime. We're seeing a continuation of clear, well documented violence,” said association co-founder Josh Capdeville.

Previously in the Tulane Avenue mass shooting:

The city has now recorded more than 80 homicide victims so far in 2017.

Other recent homicides in the Mid-City area:

Rannell and Roland Fields.jpg

June 7, 2017: While the rest of the city came to grips with the highest number of shootings in a single day on Saturday, Uptown was the site of six armed-robbery incidents on Sunday and a total of 10 over the weekend. On Wednesday morning, New Orleans police officials announced that they had arrested four people in connection with a spree of at least five of those armed robberies.

Previously:

May 18, 2017: Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's aggressive treatment of witnesses was protested by activists including nationally known folk signer Ani DiFranco on the steps of the courthouse.

Previously: The Delachaise Neighborhood Association plans to begin exploring the idea of a tax-funded security and improvement district to pay for extra police presence in their area and in the Milan area. Meanwhile, the Mid-City Security District may change its boundaries before asking voters to approve its renewal in 2019, by adding the Tulane Canal Neighborhood Association area and dropping the Parkview Neighborhood Association.

The race for City Hall

Jay Banks announces his candidacy for the District B seat on the New Orleans City Council on Tuesday morning at New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

June 6, 2017: Citing a lineage of service and civic activism, Jay Banks launched his campaign for the District B seat on the New Orleans City Council on Tuesday morning in the historic New Zion Baptist Church surrounded by supporters, pastors, Democratic party leaders and other current and former elected officials.

“My entire life has been rooted in District B,” Banks told the crowd of nearly 100 people at the church.

Another District B contender, former Orleans Parish School Board member Seth Bloom, will hold a public event Wednesday, June 14, to launch his campaign. Meanwhile, Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson and Timothy David Ray continue to campaign for the seat as well.

May 31, 2017: In District A, Joe Giarrusso III held a fundraiser in Lakeview as he began his City Council run.

May 26, 2017: District D Councilman Jared Brossett said he will seek re-election to his current seat. He has no announced challengers so far.

May 23, 2017: In the mayor's race, Desiree Charbonnet kicked off her campaign, joining the field that also includes LaToya Cantrell, Michael Bagneris, and Frank Scurlock.

Local business and land-use changes

June 7, 2017: Six high-profile restaurants in neighborhoods spanning the Uptown area closed in the month of May.

Meanwhile, the African-American-focused Community Book Center on Bayou Road is also struggling to stay open, hosting a sale Friday and Saturday specifically to keep the store in business.

Also in May, the Maple Street Book Shop announced plans to close permanently June 17 after 53 years in business.

Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott looks up behind a pile of books in October 2016. The store will close in June. (UptownMessenger.com file photo).

The Lakeview Civic Improvement Association hosted an inaugural "Harrison Avenue Stroll" on Saturday, designed to celebrate the neighborhood's local businesses.

June 5, 2017: A developer secured tentative permission to tear down Dat's Grocery on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, but only on condition that he files redevelopment plans that meet the approval of the Historic District Landmarks Commission first.

May 29, 2017: Royal Brewery held a grand opening ceremony for its new facility in New Orleans East.

May 10, 2017: The historic McDonogh 31 school building left vacant for years – last used at Morris F.X. Jeff Elementary – won City Planning Commission approval to become a 26-unit apartment complex, despite some neighbors' concerns about parking.

May 3, 2017: Children’s Hospital has begun construction on the new parking garage on its newly acquired State Street campus, launching the first phase of what will eventually be a dramatic transformation of the institution’s profile on Henry Clay Avenue.

Other business news in May:

April 20, 2017: Verret's Lounge on Washington Avenue will no longer have to hire a regular security guard -- which may pave the way toward a sale to new owners who will revamp the menu to focus more on wine -- after the Alcohol Control Board voted to lift the requirement that had been in place since last year's fatal shooting of 42-year-old Gregory Young inside the bar.

All politics is local

June 6, 2017: City officials announced the beginning of construction on a $5 million project to rebuild South Galvez Street in the Hoffman Triangle area of Central City. The road will be repaved, and its two of its four vehicular travel lanes will be replaced by bicycle lanes.

In May, The city presented a $2.4 billion project to repair the most heavily damaged streets in neighborhoods all over New Orleans over the next eight years, but Carrollton residents wondered whether plans so far over the horizon have any chance of becoming a reality.

Meanwhile, led by Councilman Jared Brossett, the New Orleans City Council has also passed a swath of new ordinances designed to improve safety for bicyclists.

District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new NOPD Second District station in Gert Town. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

May 25, 2017: The New Orleans City Council sent a plan to create a new 89-bed facility for mentally-ill inmates at the Orleans Parish Jail to the City Planning Commission, despite the opposition of criminal-justice advocates.

May 23, 2017: The Tulane Canal Neighborhood Association held a meeting to focus on strategies to fight litter.

May 10, 2017: After at least four years of planning to move the officers of the New Orleans Police Department out of their cramped, decrepit building on Magazine Street, construction is finally set to begin on their new site in Gert Town.

May 3: Construction began on the new Keller Community Center in Central City.

April 27, 2017: At the eighth annual Loyola University Institute of Politics Ed Renwick lecture, national political commentator and focus-group leader Frank Luntz described his fears that democracy is in a downward spiral because of Americans' inability to listen to one another.

April 26, 2017: Dillard University students heard from Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin, whose death at the hands of a vigilante in Florida sparked national outrage before the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The battle over the monuments

The monument honoring Charles Dreux was vandalized one night at the end of May. (Photo by Bart Everson for MidCityMessenger.com)

May 31, 2017: With the Jefferson Davis monument and P.G.T. Beauregard statue now removed, vandals defaced the concrete bust of Col. Charles Didier Dreux on Jefferson Davis Parkway by chiseling his nose off.

May 23, 2017: The City Park governing board is discussing options for the future of the now-empty P.G.T. Beauregard site in the traffic circle in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

May 21, 2017: The Jefferson Davis monument pedestal briefly bore a small metal sign that read "Love."

Previously, in the battle over the statues:

Lakefront in focus

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s string section performed on a barge, center, while commercial fishing boats were home to one instrument each during the New Water Music Festival on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. A variety of development efforts are underway along the lakefront of all different scales. (Zach Brien, GentillyMessenger.com)

With a flurry of new restaurants are in the works, the $12 million Lakeshore Landing development by the owners of Tipitina's, interest in redeveloping the long-shuttered Lincoln Beach, advocates and officials hope the lakefront area is finally poised for a long-awaited renaissance.

May 24, 2017: The City Planning Commission has postponed a decision until June 27 on the request to allow the commercial redevelopment of two Lakeshore Drive shelters.

Previously in the controversy:

May 15, 2017: In perhaps a sign of the lakefront's rising prominence as a destination, the fifth annual Diner en Blanc event made used Lakeshore Drive for its surprise location this year, drawing more than 4,000 guests and featuring performances from hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh and more.

Also, officials with the World War II museum are planning this year's WWII Air, Sea and Land Festival to be bigger than ever, incorporating both aeronautics at the Lakefront Airport and the new PT-305 patrol boat at the Lakeshore Landing development.

May 10, 2017 The owners of Brisbi's Lakefront Restaurant submitted plans for their 16-unit condo development in the Orleans Marina, after their project was scored higher than a 24-unit apartment building.

April 24, 2017: Art historian Elise Grenier has completed her restoration of the 1930s-era aviation murals inside the Lakefront Airport, returning them all to public view for the first time since the 1960s.

The charter school experiment and other education news

May 18, 2017: Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is still working out the details on the lease renewal for its Patton Street campus, preparing to move into the newly renovated Johnson building and deciding how to handle its space in a church on South Carrollton after a prospective tenant pulled out. The school is also preparing for the the launch of their long-planned French-immersion high school in two years by planning the curriculum and at least five different international degrees and certifications students will be able to pursue.

Orleans Parish School Board member Ben Kleban (left) and Superintendent Henderon Lewis Jr. listen as parent Tonette Porter (standing in the center) speaks during a meeting at Mahalia Jackson Elementary. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

May 10, 2017: A proposal to convert Mahalia Jackson Elementary from an elementary school back into a preschool center was met with questions and outright opposition from dozens of families and Central City community members, leaving the school’s fate before the Orleans Parish School Board uncertain.

Previously, the Orleans Parish School Board voted to convert Eleanor McMain Secondary School into a charter governed by the InspireNOLA network.

May 15, 2017: The private Cathedral Montessori School at the edge of City Park and Gentilly is expanding to accommodate children up to age 12.

May 5, 2017: Several local schools, including the International School of Louisiana, showed off their talents at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

May 1, 2017: With a high-pressure school year coming to an end, the board of the New Orleans College Prep charter network is beginning a national search to find its next permanent chief executive officer.

April 22, 2017: Audubon Charter School middle-school students beseech officials with the Orleans Parish School Board to improve conditions at their Milan Street campus.

Flood Protection

May 9, 2017: The Mid-City Neighborhood Association hosted a hurricane-preparedness forum.

April 13, 2017: The National Wildlife Foundation and the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are asking for the support of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization in passing updates to the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.

April 10, 2017: The city of New Orleans is ready to take on this hurricane season without issues, officials said at the 2017 State of Flood Protection Summit.

Opinion


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