NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – After eight years of debates this evening the New Orleans City Planning Commission voted to keep Newcomb Blvd. Uptown public. Now the iron fence blocking off one end must come down. WGNO News Anchor Vanessa Bolano has reaction.
A heated debate lasted close to three hours at City Hall today. The issue: privatizing Newcomb Blvd.
Newcomb resident Kimberly Rooney says, “If this traffic barrier comes down we are exposed to dangerous conditions.”
Audubon Street resident Jennifer Francis says, “Selling through streets to private individuals send the message that the city is for sale for people who can pay.”
Several Uptown residents who live only feet away from each other are facing off.
Those on Newcomb Blvd. want to buy their street from the city. Privatizing Newcomb allows them to keep an iron fence up. The barrier closes off access to Freret Street and was approved by the city in 2006, but months ago a judge found it illegal. Now nearby neighbors want the fence to go away saying they’ve pushed Newcomb traffic their way.
Newcomb resident Tim Gray explains, “We’re not asking to prevent the public from having an opportunity to park, to walk, to bicycle on the street. We want to maintain it as it is.”
Thomas Milliner is against fence. Milliner says, “If you like the scene here with wealthy individuals one side of the chamber and less wealthy people on the other side of the chamber, here me out, this can be repeated in every part of the city.”
Newcomb resident Ted McClair says, “There are no cross streets and so it creates almost an invitation to go fast on this street because of its unique nature.”
Scott Brown says, “To start this precedence it just horrible, horrible, and it doesn’t seem like it’s well planned to me.”
Tuesday evening the New Orleans City Planning Commission voted to keep Newcomb public, meaning the fence must come down.
It’s a victory for Audubon Street resident Keith Hardie who filed the lawsuit that began this battle shortly after the fence was erected. Now he hopes the neighborhood can work as one.
“I’m hoping we can work together to get area wide solutions to these problems,” says Hardie.
The gate cost $65,000 to put up. At this point the city hasn’t said exactly it will come down.
The city does say an ordinance will be introduced to the council Wednesday requesting to make Newcomb Boulevard a one way street.