Land Use

Volleyball courts on the bayou? Neighbors worry about toilets, ads and parking

Outlined in red, the property eyed for volleyball courts is owned by the Sewerage and Water Board.

City assessor's office

Outlined in red, the property eyed for volleyball courts is owned by the Sewerage and Water Board.

A volleyball club that plays several times a week along Bayou St. John dreams of building regulation courts adjacent to the American Can apartment complex — if neighborhood resistance doesn’t spike the plan.

The site eyed by the Mid-City Volleyball Group runs along Jeff Davis Parkway between Orleans Avenue and Toulouse Street. A grassy strip of land owned by the Sewerage and Water Board, it is mainly used for parking during events along the waterfront, such as the annual Bayou Boogaloo.

According to minutes of the volleyball club’s May 2012 meeting, a get-together last year with representatives of the Sewerage and Water Board and an unnamed city official went well.

But as word of the club’s dream spreads, local residents are saying not so fast.

The minutes record that the Sewerage and Water Board encouraged the group to “develop a plan to build a volleyball facility in phases since we are clearly underfunded at this time.” The club’s cash reserves were listed as less than $10,000.

Donated sand is destined for the courts, wherever they wind up.

Karen Gadbois

Donated sand is destined for the courts, wherever they wind up.

The water board’s deputy special counsel, Brian Ferrara, proposed a rent of $600 a month for the site, according to the minutes. ”Ferrara stated the site has to go out to bid but that the bid would be worded to limit the use of the site,” the minutes stated.

The Sewerage and Water Board did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Peter Hickman, the volleyball club’s prime mover, contends the site could accommodate up to five courts. But “we would probably only build two courts initially and grow slowly as we generate revenue.”

Last week, when the Sewerage and Water Board released the bid proposal for the property, the volleyball club was “shocked and disappointed,” Hickman said, to discover that the water board wants to lease the property a year at a time, not long term. It would take well more than a year for the group to recoup its initial investment, Hickman said, and so, “for economic reasons we are hesitant to submit a proposal.”

Eventually the site can be self-sustaining, Hickman said, noting that the club would be required to carry liability insurance.

Hickman said the club also needs “clarification from the Sewerage and Water Board to see if light poles can be installed on the property” for night games.

In February 2012, Michael DesJardins, former chairman of the Parkview Neighborhood Association, signed off on a letter of support for a volleyball facility, but at a different location.

Concerns about parking and impairment of the bayou’s esthetic appeal had soured the association on the site the club wants. “There is proliferate violation of the non-parking laws on the bayou itself. If this continues unabated, it will eventually destroy the very beauty of the bayou that people are attracted to in the first place,” DesJardins’ letter said. Conversion of the site to volleyball courts would only exacerbate the parking problem, he contended.

But DesJardins said the volleyball group’s cause might be furthered if neighbors could review their plans.

Funding, lighting, advertising and bathroom facilities are the concerns of Randy Richard, a Moss Street property owner who plans to build a house for himself directly across the bayou from the proposed volleyball courts.

Richard said he will be sending a list of questions to Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who represents the area.

After the recent Super Bowl, Guidry was instrumental in lining up some 20 truckloads of donated sand that now sit on the adjacent Lafitte Greenway awaiting a permanent home.  Hickman promises that wherever his group eventually ends up, the sand will be put to use creating their courts.

According to several individuals contacted for this story, Guidry has called various neighbors to a meeting in her office later this week to discuss the issue.

Guidry in a recent phone conversation said her office has no plans to convene a public meeting, characterizing her efforts on behalf of the Mid-City Volleyball Organization as support.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • Ernest Citizen

    The peaceful calm banks of Bayou St. John do not sound like the appropriate place for a volleyball operation. The area should stay multi-use for festival parking, Mid-City theater parking, little league practice area, flag football games, etc.

  • ferngrrl

    Agreed. Overdeveloping areas is dangerous–whether the bayou, City Park, the riverfront…. It changes multi-use areas into targeted-use areas. To regimented. Losing to many fields in City Park to development, too.

  • Eli

    I seriously doubt a pair of volleyball courts counts as over-development. Ernest Citizen’s comment reads as a non sequitur – it is the volleyball courts that will upset the “peaceful calm” of a site already used for “festival parking, theater parking, little league, and football.” That doesn’t make sense.

  • Musa Eubanks

    Bayou St. John is a National Historic Waterway and has been designated a Louisiana Scenic Byway. If you understand what happens at a sand volleyball venue, I don’t believe most people would approve of such a venue across the street from this bayou.

    As far as Eli comments here, the MCVG plan, according to their website, is for 5 or 6 courts, but because of finances they will only start with 2. Also, I would like to note that having lived at this end of the bayou for 14 years, I have never seen little league or football being played. On most days it is, in fact, very “peaceful” and “calm” here.

    There are many areas in New Orleans better suited for this kind of intense sporting activity other than Bayou St. John (for example along Marconi Blvd.). This is the reason why cities all over the country place sand volleyball venues far away from residences. This site is simply a bad idea, especially when you factor in league and tournament play with drinking, night play with lights, noise, etc.

  • I think it’s a great idea. They are already playing out there every
    weekend, and it’s worked out fine. They park accordingly it appears,
    they spend money at the nearby establishments and use those facilities,
    they give free lessons to children, and all get exercise and have fun.
    The vast majority of neighbors I hear, are supportive. This article
    seemed a tad slanted, in my opinion.

  • Hmmmm…. Full disclosure. I’m a former Coconut Beach Volleyball player. And supporter of Sand Volleyball.
    And hated to see Coconut Beach move to Kenner. And thought the city and UNO should have fought harder to keep them in Orleans.

    I don’t see this as particularly “bad” development. The sand volleyball courts won’t impact drainage.
    Lighting can be addressed with new LED Dark Skies lighting options.
    But there is very little room for parking (or growth). Coconut Beach….. GREW!
    City Park is not far. Wouldn’t that be a better long term location? Or is the rent there higher?

  • mike953

    Please quote me correctly: Here is the PNA letter referred to:

    February 14, 2012

    Cedrick Grant

    Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure

    and Community Development

    1340 Poydras Street,
    Suite 1000,
    New Orleans, LA 70112

    RE: The Mid-City Volleyball Group

    Dear Deputy Mayor

    The Parkview Neighborhood Association Board is writing in support of the Mid-City Volleyball
    Group’s (MCVG) proposed new volleyball venue near Bayou St. John and the
    Lafitte Greenway. Our neighborhood, which borders Bayou St. John along Moss
    Street from Carrollton to Orleans Avenue, is very supportive of non-commercial
    recreational use of Bayou St. John. MCVG has been informally using the Bayou
    green space across from the Mid-City Post Office for quite awhile now. We think
    their proposed volleyball venue will enhance the public use of both the Bayou
    and Lafitte Greenway.

    We have been told there are two proposed locations, one next to Armstrong Supply on the Levee
    Board property and the other near the abandoned brake tag station at Jeff Davis
    Parkway. Parkview would strongly recommend the Brake Tag location. Parking on
    the Bayou has been an ongoing problem for years and has only grown worse with
    the City’s permitting of Bayou Boogaloo, a recent Gospel Extravaganza and the
    Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian celebration, among others. While we welcome
    these types of events if they respect the residential nature of the area, there
    is profligate violation of the Non-Parking laws on the Bayou itself. If this
    continues unabated, it will eventually destroy the very beauty of the Bayou
    people are attracted to in the first place.

    The Levee Board property proposed for the volleyball development has served as parking for the
    major events on the Bayou. Development of 50% of this space for volleyball
    courts would only exacerbate the parking situation on the Bayou during Boogaloo
    and similar events. It is our concern to keep the Bayou beautiful that
    motivates our strong recommendation that any approval of Mid-City Volleyball
    Group’s requested development be on a location that does not diminish legal
    parking space for major events.

    Michael DesJardins

  • Peter Hickman

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the concerns of our Mid-City neighbors.
    The Mid-City Volleyball Group (MCVG) and Mid-City Youth Volleyball (MCYV)
    promote fitness, good health, and sportsmanship through the sport of outdoor
    volleyball along Bayou St. John.

    We believe in a strong community, and meet regularly with the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, the Greater Mid-City Business Association, and the Friends of Lafitte Corridor. As participation in our events continues to grow, many local businesses have seen an increase in patronage.

    MCVG has been a part of this community since 2008 and has positively impacted the quality of life for
    hundreds of people. Our goal is to build a modest sand-court venue in Mid-City that will offer beginner and advanced level clinics, tournaments, and league play in a safe, public space.

    We are considering options now to address the need for bathroom facilities and parking space and our proposal to the Sewerage and Water Board for lease of the property on Jefferson Davis Parkway will reconcile those efforts.

    Our adult competitions on the bayou build discipline and offer a fun, healthy outlet for anyone who wants to play, but we are particularly committed to serving the youth of this
    community. Every Saturday from 9:30-11:30 am MCYV runs free volleyball clinics for children ages 6 to 17 to share a sport we love with the next generation. In the future, we intend to extend the clinics to after-school and summer programs as well.

    The MCVG/MCYV Board of Directors welcome your comments. Please direct any questions or concerns to us at, or visit our website at


    MCVG Board of Directors and MCYV Board of Directors

  • leo Seymour

    light poles can be installed on the property” for night games.,,,Well IF the and the powers that be EVER get the amendment to the CZO on the books the matter of these types of lights will be addressed. Seems New Orleans East enacted an amendment that prevents anyone from “light encroachment” and the “right to dark skies”… Then these baseball court type lights just might not be allowed if they shine into the people apts or homes around the area. We are dealing with just such a problem…. neighbors contracted with Entergy for a security light (street light was out 2 on the blk) Entergy placed the light on the pole of existing broken light, which just happens to be on the property line of their neighbors….but on city property. it does not protect their house in any way shape or form, their porch lights did. BUT the neighbors directly next door have had to but cardboard in their 2nd floor windows and can no longer sit on their OWN 2nd floor balcony, the houses across the streets are flooded with the light….nothing you can do..because the people are paying the bill…. NOW we have SIX st lights on this ONE blk….AND these peoples light…it seems to have been done in malious after all….. We need to just STOP get the laws on the books so that everyone is on the same page…all this after the fact bs is ridiculous!