MARSALA: High Powered Shootings in Lakeview Provide a Wake-up Call

Residents of New Orleans Lakeview Area and East Jefferson Parish received a wake-up call both physically and literality on Thursday August 17th at 4:30am when more than 70 shots were fired from high powered rifles into an SUV at the Veterans Blvd and Fleur de Leis intersection red-light. Two men were injured and two escaped on foot from the targeted SUV.

As the men flew the SUV and ran down Fleur de Leis, the assailants continued to fire. Some bullets landed in the homes of nearby residents. The Hayride has been reporting as crime as been escalating in Lakeview and West End over the past year.

On Easter Sunday afternoon a $50,000.00 boat on a trailer was stolen in West End.

During July 4th week, between 4am and 6am, the wheels were stolen from a Mustang parked in front of the New Orleans Yacht Club. During the last year at least two cars have been stolen from the West End harbor area.  A handgun was recently discovered on the bricks surrounding a flower bed near the proposed development site of West End Lakeshore Park.

Local elected and appointed officials have been pushing since 2018 to bring more bars to West End, even though surveys by the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) show the area to be “saturated” and residents concerned that turning West End Lakeshore Park into an entertainment district will bring Burbon Street vices, such as drugs and crime into Lakeview and Bucktown.

In 2015, led by Council Member Susan Guidry, four acres of West End Lakeshore Park were re-zoned from “Park” to “mixed-use” as part of the Future Land use Masterplan (FLUM) . In January 2019, New Orleans City Council Member Joseph Giarrusso passed a motion to increase the allowable building height from 60’ to 65’ in the West End Marina. This allows for two-story parking garages with four stories of bars, commercial, retail, hotels, and housing in West End Lakeshore Park.

Giarrusso’s web site reads: “He’s worked with State, Orleans, and Jefferson Parish officials to redevelop West End into a major new attraction and a source of economic activity.”  However, currently the 4.3 acres of West End Lakeshore Park sits derelict with Giarrusso pushing for state laws to be changed to allow for his proposed vision. A clearer sentence would be that “He is working with….”

The State of Louisiana will not file a FEMA Claim to repair the Lake Retention Wall at the park. DOA Jay Dardenne, who is Governor John bel Edwards’ administrator, has declined to answer questions as to why he will not file a FEMA or GOSHEP claim to have the lake retention wall repaired and that park of the park returned to recreation. One theory is that by letting the area sit derelict and not allow it to be returned to recreational use, elected officials have an easier sell to public to convert the area to “a major new attraction.”

On June 6, 2019, District Representative Stephanie Hilferty passed ACT 152 at the Louisiana State Legislature opening the door and creating a CEA for that 1.3 acres of state land of the park that is on the Lake Pontchartrain to become part of Giarrusso’s envisioned “major new attraction” development.

In January 2022, former Council Member Plamer passed a motion, which Giarrusso voted for, that reduces parking requirements in the West End Marina if affordable housing is part of a project.

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Giarrusso has since proposed eliminating housing in the West End S-LM area, however that would make four existing condo and apartment complexes non-conforming, plus go against the 2015 FLUM. The Planning Commission has twice delayed acting as staff continues to research. Residents have asked requested the FLUM be returned to “park”, but Giarrusso refused to allow the Planning Commission to agenize the request.

The Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corporation (MYHMC) has voted to spend approximately $500,000.00 of the resident’s reserves with consultants HR&A Advisors, LLC for them to find developers, write the RFQ, and review the bids. HR&A Advisors is headed by Jeff Hebert, who is a former Deputy Mayor to Mitch Landrieu.  The MYHMC is communicating with HR&A Advisors through its attorney Stone Pigman and not providing copies of the HR&A contracts to the public. For more than a year, residents have suggested the MYHMC use their reserves to obtain matching, 2 to 1, and 3 to 1 state and federal grants to improve the open space and recreation of the park.

The Hayride reported this contract previously.

The New Orleans City web site states that retaining and adding to open space with resources spent protecting wildlife such as the pelican that inhabit the old Jefferson Parish restaurant pilings a preference.

Removing the 29-heritage Oak Trees in those 4-acres of West End Lakeshore Park and choosing bars over recreation has become a major topic in this year’s election for District Representative as voters have a choice in the candidates for District Representative at the State Level.

The 2023 election questionnaires of several community groups ask the District Representative Candidate’s plan for reducing violent crime. Converting West End Lakeshore Park to bars will probably add to violent crime and robberies.

The recent early morning high powered rifle shootings should “awaken” voters to research candidates for the 2023 State District Representative election campaign.

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