MARSALA: The Battle Of West End In New Orleans Has Been Joined

The recent murder of a security guard at “Wit’s Inn” and the vehicle shooting on I-10 at the parish lines has residents perplexed and puzzled but not at their “Wit’s End.”  They have organized West End Lakeshore Park Civic Association and have plans to keep West End Lakeshore Park as a park, protect the pelicans and other wildlife, plus bring back recreation despite the actions of Council Member Joseph Giarrusso and Representative Stephanie Hilferty to develop the heritage oak tree and wildlife habitat part of park with full-service bars.

Giarrusso and other council members have called for action against the Wit’s Inn owner’s liquor license and asked NOPD to review enforcing the city “Padlock” ordinance.  At the same time Giarrusso has been pushing the council to convert 4.3-acres of West End Lake Shore Park, which include 29 Heritage Oaks, to “a major new attraction” which residents see as likely to mean multiple full-service bars with outdoor music and an increase in crime and shootings, plus further stretching New Orleans understaffed Police department.

Just days after the I-10 vehicle shooting on the Parish Border,  Representative Hilferty, who is a Commercial Real Estate Agent, was advocating the State House Natural Resources & Environment Committee to recommend developing the lakefront part of the park to the full House.

Previously The Hayride has covered the uptick in crime in West End:

A boat being stolen

An early morning gun-fight at Fleur de Leis and Veterans

Wheels being stolen from cars parked at the New Orleans Yacht Club

Other criminal activities include recent home invasions and a hand gun found in the front yard of a boathouse.

The Hayride has also reported that in a survey of 231 residents 94% want the 29-Heritage Oak Trees saved in the area Giarrusso and Hilferty want to develop. Saving the trees reduces the buildable area to less than 2-acres. More than 80% of residents favor bringing back recreation West End and installing courts such as Bocce Ball or Pickle Ball in this area.  More than 50% of those responding were concerned about an increase in crime from adding the bars to West End Lakeshore Park.

When advocating for votes to develop West End Lakeshore Park Hilferty and Giarrusso erroneously tell the history of the park. Giarrusso on May 24th 2023 advised the New Orleans City Council: “I would like to remind everybody that this area has been a heavily commercial concern from the turn of the century until Hurricane Katrina and not one for residents.“ The thousands of nearby residents in mid and high-rise condos plus the residents in the boathouse know their neighborhood in not “heavily or even light commercial” and was recently ranked the safest in New Orleans.

In April 2024, at the Louisiana House Natural Resources & Environment Committee, Representative Hilferty incorrectly stated that from the late 1800s to Hurricane Katrina historically there had been restaurants on the land in West End Lakeshore Park. The Park was leased to New Orleans by Act 209 of 1906 and named by Act 9 of 1910.

Act 209 reads: “That, in order to provide a public park or amusement park on Lake Pontchartrain.” …. “Hereby, dedicated to the people of the City of New Orleans for the public user for public park or amusement park purposes.” …. And administer the whole of the property herein above described for public park and amusement park purposes.”…. “and that the consideration exacted or to be paid for said lease shall be dedicated and used exclusively for improvement and betterment of the property hereby dedicated to public park and amusement park purposes.”…. “as part of the foresaid park or amusement park on condition that said City of New Orleans or its lessee or lessees shall maintain said protection and revetment levee at all times in good order and condition.”


Maps from 1914 show this area of the park to be a Grand Terrace. Later in the 1930s and 1940s it was home to a rose garden with 5,600 bushes. Following WWII it was returned to a lawn. Never have there been any commercial buildings in West End Lakeshore Park.

Simply speaking, converting the “Lakeshore” part of West End Lakeshore Park to commercial defeats the given name of the park by ACT 9 OF 1910.   The park will no longer have frontage on Lake Pontchartrain.

Hilferty only states that the intent is to locate restaurants in West End Lakeshore Park. She did not mention bars or video-gaming as being part of the development. Act 152, which she passed in 2019, opens the park land to “Best Use” development.

When events such as the Wit’s Inn shooting happen in the future at West End will the New Orleans City Council and state representative call out NOPD and talk about “Padlocking” the bars, or will they remember when they did not listen to the voice of the people and keep West End Lakeshore Park a park, protect the wildlife, and add recreation as We The People asked for.



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