I agree with John Reed that the magic of the French Quarter is bound up with its identity as a real residential neighborhood with businesses mixed in. Not a drunken Disneyland, not a weekend mass-alcohol-consumption destination for spring breakers of all ages.
These proposals by the “tiger task force” threaten the essential character of the Quarter that has not only served New Orleans well for more than three centuries but draws visitors from all over the world. Eighteen million visitors a year, at last count — against a few thousand hardy residents trying to live in the midst of the “partay.”
Opposition to the new pedestrian malls is virtually unanimous in the Quarter — residents, owners, renters, business owners, workers and professional organizations are all united against these destructive ideas. The city has done a terrible job managing the Bourbon Street and Royal Street malls, which have encouraged crime and dirt. Now they propose to turn streets where people live and raise families into extensions of the Bourbon Street drunken-tourist foot promenade?
The proposals also ignore elderly folks, people with disabilities and the need for property owners to have access in order to maintain the old buildings that bring the tourists in droves.
Why not “reimagine Bourbon Street” first? Imagine a street where a mix of real clubs with real New Orleans musicians, real restaurants serving something more than Willie’s chicken and actual attractions could make a street to be proud of, not avoided. New Orleans needs to stop catering to the mass-alcohol-tourism crowd. Who benefits from that?
With a united voice, the French Quarter says “No!” to the idea of destroying our residential streets under the guise of trying to make the Quarter “more pedestrian friendly.” We are already the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in America. The Quarter ain’t broke and it don’t need fixing.
Ask yourself: Why is this proposal still being pushed after every stakeholder group has come out in opposition? Who is behind this? What do they stand to gain?