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New Orleans East residents say they'd prefer water park, not Drew Brees' group's idea

“We don’t understand truly how is it that two proposals advanced instead of one that had been the overwhelming choice of the community..."

NEW ORLEANS — They raised their voices, but folks in New Orleans East feel like when it comes to what happens to the old Six Flags property in their back yard, no one is listening. 

“We just believe that it’s being ignored, the voice is obviously not being considered in the manner in which we believe that it should be,” said Tangee Hall, president of the New Orleans East Matters Organization.

That voice comes after public comments from the community overwhelming supported a proposal known as Bayou Phoenix. It calls for a water park, hotel, sports complex and travel center to take over property that’s been abandoned for nearly 16 years. 

“This community definitely wants recreation and family activities,” said Hall. “We want amusement.”

Hall thought that support would be a clear message to city hall. However, a proposal that involves former Saints quarterback Drew Brees is also up for consideration.  That proposal, by Kiernan West and S.H.I.E.L.D. 1, would create an urban farm with educational centers and a transportation hub. It got little support from the community but was rated the highest contender by the city.

“We don’t understand truly how is it that two proposals advanced instead of one that had been the overwhelming choice of the community and it was not even close,” said Hall. “The majority of this community’s voice said, ‘You know what? The Bayou Phoenix is speaking closely to what we’ve been looking for, for all of these years.’ It has nothing to do with the celebrity status or who personally had submitted. We looked at those proposals very genuinely on the merits of what was being proposed.”

 Hall says having no representation from New Orleans East on the selection committee is also an issue. 

“I think there’s a component that is missing. There should be a representative on the committee,” said New Orleans councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen who represents New Orleans East. 

Nguyen says she requested to be on the selection committee, but potential conflicts as a councilmember prevented that from happening. Nguyen says the 227-acre Six Flags property has potential to be an economic driver for the entire region but must start with community.

“Many times, when we do stuff, we always ask the community to get involved but then we really don’t give them a seat at the table and that’s just not fair at all,” said Nguyen.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the city’s director of economic development, Jeff Schwartz said "The Cantrell Administration is the first to bring the redevelopment of the Six Flags site forward as a priority since it was shuttered 16 years ago.

 The City has maintained a fair, equitable, and transparent process that is laser focused on finding the best qualified development partner for the City and community."

Nguyen hopes the two developers being considered will listen and engage that community, to help put New Orleans East back on the map.

“People out here have been craving for development, development that’s really going to spark other developments in our community,” said Nguyen. 

Hall says the community has made it clear as to what’s wanted.  “It’s time for sustainable economic development at that site,” said Hall. “What we mean by that is a proposal that would generate jobs, that would also bring in revenue, much needed revenue even to the city and to the state as a destination."

Tuesday night the East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Committee is expected to meet to hear presentations from both developers on the Six Flags project.

RELATED: Six Flags redevelopment narrowed down to 2 proposals

RELATED: Drew Brees has a plan for New Orleans long-abandoned Six Flags

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