A beach that needs reviving and groups that can not get togethter with a plan.

An ambitious bid to revive Pontchartrain Beach on the New Orleans lakefront fell apart on Thursday amid public opposition and stalled negotiations, leaving an unclear path ahead for the once-beloved site. At a meeting on Thursday evening, the Lakefront Management Authority rejected a lease proposal to restore Pontchartrain Beach after nine months of negotiations with the Pontchartrain Beach Foundation. The vote followed a 2.5-hour public forum on Saturday where residents voiced serious concerns over the plans, which included entrance fees of $10 for adults and $5 for children. Concerns ranged from security and parking to litter. The authority’s vote was nearly unanimous, with 10 yes votes and one commissioner, Wilma Heaton, abstaining. “Saturday it was very clear to me that not only were there major impasses between the negotiating team and the team for the foundation, but definitely with the public,” said Anthony Richard, LMA chair. Plans included restoring the beach and pier on Lake Pontchartrain, designated swimming and volleyball areas, a jetty for water vehicles, fire pits and an oak grove park. It would have hosted food trucks and other vendors, and possibly live entertainment. There would have been parking for 179 visitor vehicles and 39 employees. The foundation, led by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust CEO Guy Williams, and authority proposed competing leases, and those differences could not be bridged.

The authorities request does. not seem to be out of line for the purpose of reviving a beach.

The authority sought $500 a month in rent, plus 4% of the revenue from the beach and an administration fee of an unidentified amount. The foundation sought to change that to $500 a year until the beach has finished construction and for just 1% of revenue to be added on, without an administration fee. The authority’s lease also requires the foundation to fully insure any structures on the beach, but the foundation expressed that doing so was not economically feasible since the site would not be protected from storm surge in the event of major weather events. Representatives of the foundation pleaded that board members not vote to strike down the lease so quickly, since it was only put on the board’s agenda Tuesday. “I’ve been told that this motion is being brought forward because of apparent insurmountable differences that cannot be broached,” said Michael Ricci, the attorney for the foundation. “The issues brought to you are the furthest thing possible from insurmountable. It’s not even close.” At a public forum Saturday, the authority said negotiations had stalled, but they had not yet stopped. However, LMA board members said they hadn’t yet read the foundation’s counter-proposal, which came with a note that the foundation wouldn’t sign the authority’s version of the lease. The authority’s attorney said the current proposed lease as the furthest the authority could go without opening itself up to liability.

Nine months of work down the drain.

The foundation’s representatives expressed regret that they would not be able to use their nine months of studies on how to make the beach’s restoration feasible, but hope that the work wouldn’t go to waste. “Thank you for your hard work through this commissioners,” said Williams. “We stand ready to work with whoever you choose to develop the beach, and we will make all the research that we have developed available at no charge to whoever that is.” The beach opened in the late 1920s, initially restricted to White people. Farther east on the lakefront, Lincoln Beach was for Black people. Not long after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lincoln Beach closed. It, too, is in the process of restoration now. Pontchartrain Beach closed in 1983 and is currently closed to swimming due to underwater hazards.

I can’t understand the cost to enter. Nor do I understand why they can’t build the buildings stronger.

Pontchartrain Beach off the table
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