NEW ORLEANS— A community organization has opposed a new plan by Mayor Latoya Cantrell to move city hall to the shuttered Municipal Auditorium.
Ausetta Amor Amenkul of the New Orleans Culture Preservation Committee says, “We’re basically are opposed to the move of city hall to the Municipal Auditorium because of the sacredness of the land that Congo Square sits on.”
The auditorium has been closed since being damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and the city want to use FEMA funds to repair the property. The committee has a petition on change.org and has garnered over 3,000 signatures in one week.
According to Amenkul, “The people clearly don’t want this to happen.”
The mayor’s office provided this statement:
The City of New Orleans began engaging community stakeholders last year about relocating City Hall to the Municipal Auditorium. While still in the early stages of the formal FEMA 106 review process for historic properties, our proposal would allow the City to utilize $38M in FEMA funding that will otherwise be forfeited.
The Cantrell administration appreciates the historical significance of this site and our proposed design would return the Municipal Auditorium to public use, as well as enhance other opportunities to highlight the cultural importance of Louis Armstrong Park.
We are committed to protecting Congo Square, maintaining the cultural integrity of Louis Armstrong Park and working with all interested stakeholders to ensure that our shared goals are met.
Sabrina Mays opposes the project for it’s potential impact on the Treme neighborhood.
“To me it would be a sad commentary for the first African American community in the United States,” said Mays.
The organization’s opposition to a government office on sacred grounds is firm, but they are willing to dialogue with the mayor.
Amenkul stated, We just want the community voices heard. We want an opportunity to have a public hearing. We want to be able to have a seat at the table to discuss the plans for that space.”