18 June 2006

Newcomb Boulevard Aspiring to be Audubon Place: Evidence for Concern for the Future of New Orleans

A few weeks ago I noticed the appearance of a "No Outlet" sign on Newcomb Boulevard at its intersection with St. Charles Avenue. Additionally, I have observed an off-duty police patrol car (sometimes unmarked, sometimes Orleans Parish Levee Board Police, sometimes NOPD I think) at that corner virtually every time I've driven past that intersection since then. In KTMB distraction-derived ramrod policy #5,023, seems the City of New Orleans has allowed Newcomb Boulevard to essentially become a private, practically-gated community (Audubon Place, Jr.) by blocking off the access to Freret Street making it a dead end from St. Charles. I do not recall any public discourse on allowing or disallowing the removal of Newcomb Boulevard as a publicly accessible right of way. A few years ago, residents of Trianon Place in Fountainbleau lobbied the City of New Orleans to restrict that public street's access. Those homeowners were successful in getting the city to block off the lakeside end of the street, but from what I recall there was a process involving the opportunity for public comment on the proposed modification. One of the main issues brought up with the Trianon Place proposal was that the accessibility of garbage trucks, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles to the street is severely impacted by cutting it off with no design modifications (i.e. a cul-de-sac or a turnaround spur) to the street itself. The same issue applies to Newcomb.

To my knowledge there has been no public process in the Newcomb Boulevard case--the "you can't come in here" signs and Green Zone-like concrete barriers just up and appeared one day in April or May. Was a vehicular circulation study done to forecast the volume impact on other streets in the area once Newcomb is basically removed from the grid? Somehow I doubt it--especially since the City Planning Commission staff has been widdled down to like six people which is absolutely pathetic given the tenuous position the City of New Orleans finds itself in post-KTMB. People such as myself living in adjacent portions of Uptown and Carrollton that sometimes utilize Newcomb as an alternative to Broadway to get lakeside towards Freret Street from The Avenue no longer have that option. And that, of course, is the stated purpose of closing the street--coupled with the fear-driven belief that closing the street off to the public and having its own private security (off-duty police officers) will make its residents safer.

Hey, Newcomb Boulevard . . . You want to live in a gated community on a cul-de-sac? Might I suggest you shouldn't live in Uptown New Orleans. Move to a place that is a master-planned community like Kingwood, Texas full of cul-de-sacs by initial design. The fact that most of our city is a grid that developed over time with no master plan pre-dating the existence of police powers (zoning) in many areas is part of what makes our neighborhoods what they are. I suspect that the limiting of access of public streets through gates and other methods (walls, bollards, etc.) and the decomposition of the fully accessible street grid that makes up most of New Orleans will be proposed and supported in the post-KTMB redevelopment of certain areas of the city--especially Lakeview and maybe Gentilly as well.

The Newcomb Boulevard situation represents yet another instance of policies and decisions given a pass by our city government that pre-KTMB likely would not have happened or at least minimally would have at least been given opportunity for public discussion and an opportunity for galvenized opposition (i.e. the Uptown anti-high rise effort two years ago). I have real concern with this Administration with what other "improvements" are going to be forced upon New Orleans in the name of progress (especially demolition of historic buildings). This city has resisted that song and dance since the 1950s and even earlier thus allowing us to retain our character unlike virtually every other major American city. Now after one watershed event nearly sixty years of preservation are going to be allowed to chipped away because of a complete reversal in previously unquestioned "preserve at all cost" principles. Drive around our city today. Notice how a building here and a building there have been demolished. Its happening every single day. And I am not talking about less than thirty year old buildings inundated with 7-10 feet of water in Lakeview or Gentilly or New Orleans East. A Mid City friend tells me a building on the St. John Church property (next to the Canal Street Robert Market shell) that pre-KTMB would have never been allowed to be taken down (or again at least without an opportunity for voiced opposition such as the Stuart Hall Affair three years ago).

Mayor Nagin's "unprecedented building boom" coming soon to a theatre near you worries me greatly . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Newcomb Boulevard, Uptown, Louisiana


At June 18, 2006 3:11 PM, Blogger GentillyGirl said...

This doing is definitely something to be concerned with by most all of New Orleanians. (We know which part of the population is in favor of this poop.)

I see the answer in massive Civil Disobedience, true Civil Rights marches, and more than a litttle bit of "Monkey Wrenching".

This city belongs to all of it's citizens, not just the 'haves' and the wage slaves that serve them.

At June 18, 2006 5:06 PM, Blogger bayoustjohndavid said...

The first thing I'd point out is that I've never seen cars speeding on that street. The residents simply don't have the somewhat legitimate reason for limiting access that residents sometimes have when a side street gets traffic intended for a major thoroughfare. When, I lived in the area I frequently walked or bicycled down that street and would have noticed. It might seem minor, but there are a lot of streets in N.O. (Metairie, also) that would have stronger arguments for making such a change, so it could become widespread.

Also, I wouldn't have noticed the signs, but I'm pretty sure that the barricades are even newer. I began a new job about a block away on May 15, but didn't notice them until this month. I meant to find out about it; I'll certainly ask at work whether anybody noticed. It's not important, unless it might mean that everythig hasn't been finalized. Also, I'm curious about whether this was all rushed through under Batt or whether Midura could still oppose it. If I lived in District A, I'd write her.

At June 19, 2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a resident of Trianon Plaza, and our homeowners association purchased the street from the city. I have no comments on Newcomb's situation, but would like to clarify their comparison with Trianon Plaza.

Trianon Plaza was historically a cul-de sac when it was built - there is a turnaround in the street. All our services are provided from our rear streets (specifically, Broadway for the even and Audubon for the odd) - including utilities and garbage collection.

Houses on Trianon were not allowed to have front driveways when they were built. With cars parked on both sides of the street at all times, there is rarely any room for two-way traffic.

The street has never been a shortcut to anywhere. Prior to it being blocked off (temporarily and now permanently), drivers coming up from Broadway had to make a left or a right on Walmsley and there were a number of incidents of cars being side-swiped on Trianon. Even after the temporary barricade was in place, similar incidents occurred.

From my personal point of view, I supported the purchase of the street as the only way to make the blocking permanent. I don't believe the homeowners association has any plans to stop traffic from entering the cul-de-sac.

At June 19, 2006 1:38 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...


Thanks for the input. My point was that there was a process that took place with your street that to my knowledge hasn't with Newcomb Blvd.

At June 27, 2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Hollis P. Wood said...

Uhh, Gatsby. I think the question is who are you? Didn't you get that we are doing this because we love New Orleans the way it is and should be? If you think the people on Newcomb should be able to gate their street, fine. That's your opinion. But, telling us to move if we don't like New Orleans? Where did that come from?

At June 27, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...

uptown? gatsby:

Wow. You so don't get it. From your comment on this post and your other award-winning comment on the Carrollton/Claiborne post, I believe it is you that belong elsewhere not myself.

To be honest, I have no idea what Newcomb Boulevard did to get this done because apparently it all went down behind closed doors.

At November 16, 2006 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traveling north-south in this area is already difficult, what with Tulane, Loyola, Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, other private streets such as Rosa Park, etc. all obstructing the flow. To add yet another obstruction is really a bad idea. Sure, wouldn't we all like to have less traffic on our streets, but let's remember that those snot-nosed New York college kids provide a *heck* of a lot of jobs in our poor struggling economy.

I have e-mailed my councilperson. Perhaps others should do the same in addition to voicing their thoughts here. At the very least, I would like to know what process takes place to make such a decision, and which public entity issues permission.

At November 12, 2007 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the truth behind the disgustingly selfish, racist, exclusionist, elitist and illegal action taken by the Newcomb Boulevard residents, collusive and corrupt city officials and presumably the Newcomb Boulevard Neighborhood Association, go to:


At June 06, 2012 9:53 PM, Anonymous price per head said...

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At June 13, 2012 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's atrocious that non-resident pedestrians cannot even WALK down Audubon Place - I hope Newcomb never, ever succumbs to the terrible snobbery and elitism shown by the resident at A****** Place.

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