Lakefront shelter renovation proposal gets push-back from property owners association

Lakefront shelter renovation proposal gets push-back from property owners association

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "I've always said I'd love to have an outdoor gym, and I figured it was just a pipe dream. And then one day, it's possible," physical trainer and owner of X-Trainers Leilani Heno said.

Heno has big plans for Shelter Number 2 along the Lakefront.

"What I'm proposing is taking over the space. I own X-Trainers, so I'd have an outdoor gym on one side, and basically doing a healthy meal service on the other side," Heno said.

The shelters on Lakeshore Drive have been closed since Hurricane Katrina, but the Non-Flood Authority wants to eventually open them up again.

Last year, the Non-Flood Authority approved Heno's proposal to renovate Shelter Number 2, as well as another proposal to turn Shelter Number 1 into an old New Orleans Boil House. The projects, though, cannot move forward unless there's a zoning change for both shelters, making them commercial property.

The Lake Vista Property Owners Association does not want the zoning to change. Instead, they'd like to see it return to its historical use.

"We want to see it come back to a concession stand. We want to see it come back to the public. Right now, the public is not offered public amenities, except for portable toilets," Monte Shalett said.

"Snowballs are not going to pay for those restrooms, but at the same time, they want it to be the way it used to be," Heno said.

Lake Vista Property Association President Shalett said they don't believe the space should be revenue-generating property, and he worries re-zoning could have negative effects in the future.

"It should be allowed to do what it was designed to do, which was to establish some type of order in the city and to prevent sometimes unfortunate disruption of that order, putting commercial uses too close to residents or playgrounds," Shalett said.

The Planning Commission deferred the issue to its June 27 meeting.

Heno said she's hopeful the zoning will change and that her business becomes a reality.

"I do plan on selling wine and beer. I do plan on a nice workout, and then you enjoying a healthy meal while watching the sunset with a nice glass of wine," Heno said.

The Non-Flood Authority said it will meet with the Planning Commission next week. It plans to craft a better solution to the zoning change.

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