NEW ORLEANS - In reviewing the funds that were set aside for Algiers projects, many of which were started in my first term, and some even proceeded 2010, it has come to my attention that the previous Administration has requested an amendment of the set-aside funds for the soccer stadium to be directed towards the Natatorium. This flies in the face of what was originally promised to Algiers.
The original plan called first for the development of a soccer complex at Berhman Park encompassing multiple fields and stadiums to be able to host tournaments. The revenue produced from a regional soccer/sports complex could fund the programming for all the Algiers youth year round. The Soccer stadium was a fully funded separate project
In addition to the soccer complex, the Natatorium project grew from a community concern over only having one outdoor public pool in Algiers, currently situated at Berhman. With a neighborhood as large as Algiers, and considering the poor state of the public transportation system, it made sense to add The Natatorium in addition to the Berhman pool and another location, so more of our children and families had reasonable access to a pool.
I have included the request that was sent by the Administration to re-allocate the stadium funds to a Natatorium on the current Behrman pool site; leaving Algiers again with only one public pool (by comparison, the east bank of District "C" has three pools). This is just the diversion of funds that we know of, and I fear this sets a dangerous precedent for other Algiers improvement projects to be raided to provide additional money to this project.
These actions are just another troubling trend in the practices of the previous Administration. Examples like the transfer of money from the General Meyer streetscape project, which received only tree plantings instead of the bike lanes in the original plan, or the recently reported funding of city pensions with monies for the Downtown Development District have left citizens feeling that their government officials will do what suits them best, rather than what is best for the community.
As such, I am requesting an accounting of funding that was originally earmarked for the following projects:
- Repairs to Skelly Rupp Stadium
- Fox Playground
- Norman Playground (The community was involved in a planning process, money was set aside, and no work has been completed in the past four years)
- Brechtel Park and Golf Course
This funding should include, but not be limited to: Disaster CDBG; FEMA; any additional federal, state, and/or city dollars.
I am sending this in hopes that we can join efforts to ensure Algiers gets its fair share of resources and amenities. This can only happen if we seek out and listen to the voices in the neighborhoods these projects will potentially impact. As such, I respectfully ask that any work related to the Natatorium project be placed on hold until we can sort out the funding issues above, and convene stakeholders from across Algiers to develop a plan that serves all of our citizens.
To view the Administration's request to re-allocate the stadium funds, click here.