By Veronica Barbarin
New Orleans East residents, some in green shirts to show their support for bringing back the Jazzland amusement park, recently assembled at the newly constructed Franklin Avenue Baptist Church with hopeful expectation of hearing positive news regarding an assessment of the site which was once the location of one of New Orleans East’s main attractions — the 60-acre, former Six Flags / Jazzland amusement park.
Unfortunately, since the devastation of hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed, the amusement park has been sitting untouched, for at least 14 years, with the exception of movie productions and vandalism.
TIP Strategies, located in Texas, and Perkins and Will, of Chicago, both independent consultants who were engaged by the New Orleans Business Alliance to research and study future potentials for “Jazzland”, reported that there could be the opportunity for the site to be used for tourism, education, a research center, entertainment and other activities, including the possibility of utilizing Bayou Sauvage and Joe W. Brown Park and the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center as added education and research venues.
However, something more to consider is that the consultants’ assessment showed that at least 62 percent of the property will soon have land loss within the next 10 years. And while it is a good thing that assessments are ongoing, the bottom line is that there is a need to acquire a potential buyer. Until then, this site will sit, and more assessments will be conducted. For the time being it appears that the city has abandoned plans to demolish the site, while a final decision is made on the site’s future.
It should be noted that the New Orleans Business Alliance has been charged with the park’s redevelopment on behalf of the city of New Orleans and was given the responsibility to locate an organization willing to be the redeveloper of this site, formerly known as Jazzland.
Editor’s Note: In a response to the meeting, Tonya Pope who has submitted multiple proposals for developing the site, stated that “Mr. (Quentin) Messer (President & CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance) stated three times that ‘all’ previous proposals required substantial public funding. That is simply not true, and we have brought this to his attention.
We have NEVER asked for public assistance or funding. Ours has always been a PRIVATELY funded proposal. We have stated that we would leave those doors open for future retail/hotel/etc., partners and tenants to negotiate independently, but that we would not need them.
At this point, the only TIF or public assistance that we would CONSIDER accepting would be specific to repairing the S&WB pumps that sit on the corner of the parking lot, and clearing their drainage canal that is overgrown with vegetation and keeping water trapped around the property and into Oak Island subdivision.
Those pumps do not appear on S&WB maps, and have not been powered since Katrina. We believe that limited use may be acceptable to all concerned, and we could make sure the work actually got done. Again, it would ONLY be for limited use to repair city infrastructure surrounding the property and affecting residential areas as well. We would ONLY accept such an arrangement if the community agreed.”