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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "New Orleans investigating possibility of artificial turf to protect St. Charles Avenue neutral grounds"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "New Orleans Recreation Department drops Annunciation improvements, Uptown dog park from budget requests"
Meanwhile, public pools around the city opened Friday, June 2, for the summer aquatics season.
- UptownMessenger.com: "New Orleans Recreation Department pools to open next week"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "City Park requesting $25 million in projects from city’s Capital Budget"
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.
- Read more at MidCityMessenger.com: "City Park’s positive revenue trend due to savings, prohibitions on staff pay raises"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "NOLA Project’s “The Spider Queen” takes its cues from fantastical realms"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Audubon Commission still seeking $5 million from city for new lion exhibit"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Bayou Boogaloo parties on through threat of rain"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Bayou Boogaloo organizers grappling with whether to monetize event"
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.
- Read more at MidCityMessenger.com: "Warehouse redevelopment aims to breathe new life onto forgotten stretch of Lafitte Greenway"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Mayor Landrieu addresses recent Tulane Avenue violence during NOPD rank meeting"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "After rash of homicides, community crime meeting meant to clear future path"
Previously in the Tulane Avenue mass shooting:
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Two dead, three injured in Tulane Avenue shooting"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Tulane Avenue businesses speaking out after Saturday’s homicides"
The city has now recorded more than 80 homicide victims so far in 2017.
- NolaMessenger.com: List of homicide victims in New Orleans in 2017
Other recent homicides in the Mid-City area:
- May 31, 2017: "Two dead after two separate Mid-City shootings"
- May 23, 2017: "NOPD: Body found in trash can classified as homicide"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com "Arrests announced in spree of Uptown armed robberies and carjackings"
- UptownMessenger.com: "Six armed robberies reported around Uptown New Orleans on Sunday"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Protestors urge voters to recall Orleans Parish DA, keep 'fighting for justice'
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.
- Uptown Messenger: "Delachaise Neighborhood to explore tax-based security district"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Possible new MCSD boundaries could exclude Parkview"
The race for City Hall
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Jay Banks launches City Council run: 'My entire life has been rooted in District B'"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Seth Bloom, Jay Banks both set dates for City Council campaign kickoffs"
May 31, 2017: In District A, Joe Giarrusso III held a fundraiser in Lakeview as he began his City Council run.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Joe Giarrusso holds Lakeview fundraiser as City Council races begin"
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.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Councilmember Brossett confirms run for District D re-election"
- UptownMessenger.com: "Desiree Charbonnet announces campaign for mayor"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Six high-profile Uptown restaurants announced closures in 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.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "‘Save Our Store': Community Book Center hosts sale to fight potential closing"
Also in May, the Maple Street Book Shop announced plans to close permanently June 17 after 53 years in business.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Maple Street Book Shop to close in June after 53 years"
The Lakeview Civic Improvement Association hosted an inaugural "Harrison Avenue Stroll" on Saturday, designed to celebrate the neighborhood's local businesses.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "‘Stroll’ brings residents to Harrison Avenue businesses (photos)"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Developer hopes to demolish Dat’s Grocery property on Magazine Street"
May 29, 2017: Royal Brewery held a grand opening ceremony for its new facility in New Orleans East.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Royal Brewery opens 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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "After years of complications, shuttered McDonogh 31 closer to becoming apartments"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "See the dramatic transformation planned for the future of Children’s Hospital"
Other business news in May:
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Melt in Mid-City planning for rooftop patio"
- UptownMessenger.com: "Low Cost Animal Medical Center opens its doors in Gert Town"
- GentillyMessenger.com: "City Planning Commission approves New Orleans Delta Foundation community center"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Proposed dental clinic along Carrollton leaves residents worried about parking"
- UptownMessenger.com: "Artists’ co-op bed-and-breakfast at Race and Magazine gets initial city approval"
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.
- Read more at UptownMessenger.com: "City drops security-guard requirement for Verret’s Lounge, allowing sale to wine 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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Construction begins on South Galvez Street reconfiguration project in Central City"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Carrollton residents greet launch of $2.4 billion road repair project with skepticism"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "New bicycle safety ordinances unanimously passed by City Council"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Prospective jail expansion plan passes City Council"
May 23, 2017: The Tulane Canal Neighborhood Association held a meeting to focus on strategies to fight litter.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Cleanups, education or fines: What’s the solution to 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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "New Orleans city officials celebrate start of construction on new Second District police station in Gert Town"
May 3: Construction began on the new Keller Community Center in Central City.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Construction begins on new community center on Magnolia Street 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.
- Read live coverage of the lecture by Luntz -- including a dialogue with Norman Robinson -- at UptownMessenger.com: "I’m afraid that this is the election cycle that kills our democracy.”
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.
- Read more from GentillyMessenger.com: "Tracy Martin at Dillard University: ‘I lost my legacy… We have to do better’"
The battle over the monuments
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Another Mid-City Confederate monument vandalized"
- MidCityMessenger.com: "City Park board holds closed door-meeting to discuss options for Beauregard statue site"
May 21, 2017: The Jefferson Davis monument pedestal briefly bore a small metal sign that read "Love."
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Small ‘LOVE’ metal work posted on former Jefferson Davis monument"
Previously, in the battle over the statues:
- April 30, 2017: "Mid-City bar attacked on social media; Jeff Davis protestors say they were refused service"
Lakefront in focus
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.
- Read full coverage from Gentilly Messenger: "WATERFRONT REVIVAL: Big plans abound for redevelopment all along Lake Pontchartrain"
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.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "City Planning defers proposal for commercial uses of Shelter Houses"
Previously in the controversy:
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Boil house celebration canceled due to false claims"
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Lakefront residents oppose potential commercial uses of shelters 1 and 2"
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.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Dîner en Blanc hosts celebration on New Orleans Lakefront"
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.
- Read more at GentillyMessenger.com: "WWII Museum set for Air, Sea and Land Festival in October"
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.
- GentillyMessenger.com: "Brisbi owner’s condominium seeks approval from Non-Flood Authority"
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.
- Read more at GentillyMessenger.com: "Lakefront Airport murals completely restored for first time since the ’60s"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "Lycee Francais still sorting out facility plans for next year"
- UptownMessenger.com: "Lycee Francais preparing to launch French-curriculum high school in two years"
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.
- UptownMessenger.com: "At Mahalia Jackson Elementary: 'We need to fight for what’s ours'"
- UptownMessenger.com: "McMain will become charter school run by InspireNOLA, OPSB decides; no decision on Mahalia Jackson"
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.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Cathedral Montessori expanding to include more students, age levels
- MidCityMessenger.com: "Local schools bring out their best for Jazz Fest crowds"
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.
- Read more at UptownMessenger.com: "New Orleans College Prep embarks on national search for next CEO"
- Read more at UptownMessenger.com: "Audubon Charter students beseech Orleans Parish for emergency repairs to Milan campus (live coverage)"
May 9, 2017: The Mid-City Neighborhood Association hosted a hurricane-preparedness forum.
- MidCityMessenger.com: "As hurricane season nears, local preparedness groups urging storm readiness"
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.
- Mid-City Messenger: "Louisiana Coastal Master Plan officials asking for Mid-City support"
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.
- Gentilly Messenger: "Flood protection officials give updates on master plan projects at summit"
- June 5, 2017: Owen Courreges: "Owen Courreges: New Orleans in 2017 is becoming a much better place to live — for murderers"