NEW ORLEANS -- The City Planning Commission voted Tuesday night to deny residents of Newcomb Boulevard the ability to purchase a street, in effect ordering a gate in the area to come down.
More than 100 people poured into the City Planning Commission for the meeting. At issue is a wrought-iron fence stopping traffic between St. Charles Avenue and Freret Street.
In 2006, Newcomb Boulevard got permits for the fence. But after a lawsuit, the court said the fence was illegal and ordered it to be taken down.
Those for the fence wanted to buy the four-block long section of Newcomb Boulevard so they could keep the fence.
“We don’t want absolute control of the street. We will pay to maintain it. All we want is to keep the barrier there, which the city recognized in 2005 was necessary to prevent a dangerous condition on the street because of its unique nature,” said Tim Gray, a proponent of the fence.
Kimberly Rooney, another proponent of the fence, said, “In fact 15 out of the 23 households on Audubon Street, directly adjacent to Newcomb, the very stretch where the most vocal opponent of our application lives, support our purchase.”
Those for the fence say if purchased, pedestrians, bikers and cars will still be allowed. It’s not an effort to block people out, they say; it’s an effort to stop the speeding on a narrow two-way street. They say it’s about safety.
Those against the fence say it pushes traffic onto other streets, and it’s about a separation of the have and have-nots.
“If you like the scene here with wealthy individuals on one side of the chamber and less wealthy people on the other side of the chamber, this can be repeated in every part of the city,” said Tommy Milliner, a fence opponent.
It's not clear when the fence, which cost $65,000, will have to be taken down.
One commissioner voted to allow the residents to buy the street.
Several commissioners said it would have set a "dangerous precedent" to allow them to buy the street, and that they do not think the street is unique compared to others in the city.