New beach stirs up support, concern and strife among Mandeville leaders

Ashley Rodrigue talks about issues with the new beach in Mandeville.

MANDEVILLE, La. --  While many have expressed excitement about a new beach opening on the Mandeville lakefront this weekend, some families are worried after seeing an alligator pop up on the property this week.

Those concerns are stirring already murky waters among city leaders.

Thursday, dozens of curious families made their way to the beach, either by accident or by word of mouth.

"I think it's wonderful. I plan to bring my to bring my children," said Mandeville resident Stacie Eirich, "I have a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old and we love to be outdoors."

"It was awesome," said Covington resident Julianna Maricelli, "We had the dogs out here earlier. They were swimming."

Not so pleasantly, to Councilman David Ellis, the beach was a surprise to him too.

"I did not know about this beach prior to the public," he said, "As a council person, I thought that brings into a more serious issue which is communications. And I think communications need to be looked at a little more deeply."

The sand showed up to the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Jackson Avenue last week. The mayor, who did not want to publicly comment on this dispute, said the council gave the thumbs-up for the $90,000 project in the budget.  Yet Ellis said no plan or timeline was ever shared with the council.

Then, a few days ago, an alligator was spotted on the work-in-progress, furthering Ellis' point about fleshing out issues together including safety, environmental impacts, maintenance and more.

"I'm not saying it's not necessarily a good idea, I think some people like it," Ellis said. "However, I'm saying let's vet it, let's get it in front of the public. Let's talk to the council. Make sure the council is on the same page as the administration. That's been the concern for this, and several other topics."

To many in the public, the beach is a boon.

"I think it's just another thing to talk about and, really, I think we should celebrate nature and be out," said Eirich, "Yes, there's gators, we're in Louisiana, and we all need to be safe.  We need to keep a look out, but we need to enjoy life too."

The beach is scheduled for official dedication and opening Saturday, March 11 at 9 a.m.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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