The Metairie couple who organized an effort to prevent the development of an 8-acre piece of land owned by the Archdiocese of Greater New Orleans has declared victory with the $3.3 million sale of the property to an ally who plans to keep it as green space.
Robert and Lisa Ross said Sanctuary Preservation LLC, whose principal is listed with the Louisiana secretary of state as Robert Johnson, of Pearl River, now owns the portion of the Cenacle Retreat House property near Lake Pontchartrain that was subdivided as a separate parcel by the Jefferson Parish Council in December.
The archdiocese needed to sell the parcel to offset the $6 million it spent to buy the entire 19-acre property last year from the Cenacle, an order of nuns whose membership has dwindled in recent years.
The Rosses, both physicians who live in the nearby neighborhood known as Holy Land on the Lake, formed a nonprofit group and began to enlist volunteers and raise money to buy the 8 acres and keep it from being developed, putting down $125,000 while they negotiated the purchase.
But that group, called Metairie Sanctuary on the Lake, was apparently not the source of the funding used to purchase the property, according to a statement released by Robert Ross late Wednesday.
“The members and supporters of Metairie Sanctuary on the Lake Inc. are to be applauded and commended for a tremendous effort and their many hours spent. However, they were not able to raise the needed funds to purchase the property,” the statement read.
The statement thanked the archdiocese and unnamed elected officials and said there are no immediate plans for the property, which is part of one of the few large undeveloped parcels of land left in Metarie.
Ross was not available for further comment Thursday, though his wife told nola.com that the only stipulation made by the archdiocese on the sale was that it not become home to an abortion clinic.