Trees on Bourbon Street? Street furniture? Cement bollards to block traffic? They're all parts of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plan to increase safety in the French Quarter. Is this what we want? Do we need to change Bourbon Street?
The French Quarter is the money maker, the money machine of the city. It draws in millions of tourists; so, of course, it deserves attention. How much attention, though? And what do we want it to be?
One guest I spoke with was Ken Caron, President of Cops 8 (an organization that supports police officers in the 8th District) about this issue. Mr. Caron made an analogy that I found interesting.
“Now I understand Bourbon Street is very important to the tourist industry and to our city as a whole. Beyond that, the citizens are just as important. It's almost as if we're building a wall around Bourbon Street.”
He said a forum to discuss the measures just brought up more questions. There's an upfront cost of approximately $40 million, but there are potential recurring costs to keep everything in place. Is it important to spend this money on Bourbon and the French Quarter, or could it be better spent in other ways?
I also spoke with Meg Lousteau, the Executive Director of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates (VCPORA). One of the points she stressed is that people still live in the French Quarter; it's a neighborhood. And that's one of the many things that helps make the Quarter “authentic.”
“That's not a street anymore; that's a pedestrian mall. Are we really talking about converting seven blocks of Bourbon Street into a pedestrian mall?”
Should a stretch of Bourbon be closed like Royal Street? She pointed out that closing off Bourbon doesn't just affect Bourbon Street; it affects the streets on either side. How would that impact residents, business owners, and workers, in the Quarter and surrounding areas?
What do you think? Do we need a Bourbon Street re-do?