Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
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METAIRIE, La. - A group of Metairie residents gathered in the cold, rainy weather Sunday to protest the selling of the green space at the Metairie Cenacle Retreat House.

The 20-acre field is owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, but after financial issues about half is up for sale.

Residents like Rufus Cressend fear the land will be dug up to build more homes, destroying the beauty and wildlife.

'The Church is the largest organization in the world. They don't pay taxes. This is like pocket change to them to give this back to our community,' he said.

The neighborhood has been working closely with civic groups looking for ways to preserve the land.

Attorney Jonathan Brouk joined the fight giving legal advice.

He said so far the Archdiocese isn't making any sudden moves.

'We did get a nice call on Friday that the Archbishop and Archdiocese is willing to give the community more time,' he said.

The Archdiocese hasn't released specifics on how the land will be used but said it will keep the best interest of the neighborhoods in mind.

Sarah McDonald, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese said, 'We have met with neighbors several times and we want to be good to them. We want to be successful in our ministry and that will depend on the neighborhood around us.'

That news is still unsettling to those in this area.

Dr Robert Ross says the group is running short on time to keep what he says belongs to the neighborhood.

'We believe with the help of this community, the property can be maintained as an actual green space,' Ross said.

Ross hopes the group will reach a deal with the Archdiocese that he calls 'reasonable.' Ross said he would like an extension on the time frame for a future deal.

A hearing will be held Wednesday December 11 at 10 a.m. at the Jefferson Parish government building.

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