New $5 million road and boat launch project almost complete for West End

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 7:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -A $5 million road restoration, and boat launch project is nearly completed along the New Orleans Lakefront at Breakwater Drive, but people waiting for a redevelopment plan for the entire West End area will have to wait a little longer.

“This has been a really nice job here, you got a bike path you come out here and see sunsets, it’s quiet and peaceful,” said Charles Marsala, with the group ‘Keep Open Space At West End.

The new boat launch is in, along with a walking path, but the road to ‘The Point’ remains in disrepair, and when you reach West End…desolation. An area that once thrived as a major entertainment district has never come back since Katrina, and a plan to re-develop it has slowed down.

‘It’s about making sure we have all the documentation taken care of so that when we go to the public and start the solicitation process we wanna make sure it’s all done publicly,” said Councilmember Joe Giarrusso.

The old 4.2-acre parking lot straddles the Orleans-Jefferson parish line, and putting together a government entity to take proposals is taking longer than first thought.

“There’s a couple different things, one was Covid and then we decided we need to extend the CEA between Orleans and Jefferson parish,” said Giarrusso.

Longtime residents have fond memories of what once was here, and look forward to some type of redevelopment.

“If this would rebuild out here again you’d have good times again,” said longtime area resident Allen Mackenroth.

But while some would like to see West End return to what it once was, others would like it to revert back to its original use.

“We have a bird sanctuary here and when we get a three-to-one match we could just keep it a bird sanctuary,” said Marsala.

The Army Corps of Engineers prohibits anyone from building anything out into the lake on piers due to the new pumping station. Marsala says that new hurricane-resistant building standards requiring an elevation of 17 feet, would make restaurants or bars cost prohibitive.

“If you look at the area life has changed, we have to let it go,” said Marsala.

That’s something many with fond memories of old West End would have a hard time doing.

“If this would rebuild out here again we would have good times again,” said Mackenroth.

But, after repeated delays, proponents of a new multi-jurisdictional committee could begin exploring re-development options by the end of the year.

People in favor of open space at West End say a 1906 law may still apply, which established the area as a park.

Jefferson Parish Councilmember Jennifer Van Vrancken has also been working on the cooperative endeavor agreement to begin taking proposals for West End redevelopment. She also believes they could begin by the end of the year.

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