Karen Gadbois, The Lens, opinion writer |
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s on a tear — a tear-down tear, to be precise. He has vowed to tear down 10,000 abandoned or derelict structures in his first term. (So far we’re at 1,378 and counting, according to the midyear report on ResultsNOLA.)
But sometimes the juggernaut gets a little ahead of itself, as when, in a recent meeting on next year’s city budget (see video below), Landrieu flashed a slide of Gert Town’s public swimming pool. The space-age 1980 plastic dome was a Katrina casualty and has been closed ever since. The mayor’s target date for demolition of the once popular natatorium and adjacent community day-care center: Aug. 31.
On Monday, the Lowerline Street property — owned by the city, but on land owned by Xavier University — caught the attention of the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee. It seems even a rampaging anti-blight mayor can’t be entirely indifferent to due process.
Asserting itself, the Committee opted to require Xavier to produce a redevelopment plan before the geodesic pool building and day-care center can be demolished, and to do so in time for the Committee’s next meeting. No one spoke in favor of restoring the facility as a place to swim.
Reached by phone, Xavier spokesman Calvin Trege said the university may use the site in one of three ways: as parking space for the planned Convocation Center, as tennis courts or as green space to support outdoor activities for the Health and Physical Education Department.
Xavier has until Aug. 29, the date of the Committee’s next meeting, to finalize its plans. Assuming the Committee then approves demolition, the mayor will have a hectic 48 hours to meet the demo deadline he set.