Bywater News

Personal Writings Rebuild New Orleans

New Orleans     What’s new in the neighborhood, you might ask.

Well, they finally finished the landscaping around the Alvar Street Library. The flowers are long gone, I suppose because that requires maintenance. I’m not sure what I think about all of it, but I know I don’t like the locked gate which privatizes public space, but I do like the three cypress trees that will provide great shake there in another 10 years, and I love the water fountain, an amenity which I use coming in from a swelteringly, humid run. In short, it’s ok. Finally! Good work and many thanks.

Another good edition I see is the evening soccer game being played until around 7 pm in the backyard (which should return to park space!) of the Fredrick Douglass High School. Between a dozen and a score of the Latino construction workers now living here and there around the Bywater come out to run, kick, shout, and score frequently, before getting some sleep for another hard day. On these summer days at dusk across from our house this has become a daily event that brings great pleasure. If I’m home in time, my son and I stop for a minute at the fence and watch the play admiringly. He understands something about soccer. I understand virtually nothing about it being from an earlier generation, but the skill and fun are unmistakable and enrich the block and the neighborhood.

Around our block there are now three condemnation signs on houses where the owners have still not returned or gutted. I returned from my travels to find one house spray painted all over that it was UNSAFE. The other two are warnings fired across the owners’ bows. We will see what happens.

The two developments, one to the west side of us and one to the east side of us, have made their compromises and are now proceeding under caution lights if they fulfill their promises. I wonder how the foreclosure on the Chateau Sonesta will impact on Pres Kabacoff’s ability to finance the Artists Lofts (so-called) to the west. I see no sign of activity. A movie was being shot on the property to the east. The hustle-bustle upscale condo developers call it ICI-NOLA (icky as the opponents say of this French phrase for “here, New Orleans”) have not moved forward yet, but we will see what happens there as well. On our block a house finally sold, which is actually a rarity in the neighborhood, if you ask me, where the prices have soared, while the wallets are still much smaller sized. The corner lot rumored to be the home site for the architect Andres Duany is now filled with overgrown weeds more than 5 feet tall. The “new urbanism” seems a lot like the old ghetto.

Cardinals are in the trees and the yard needs to be cut. Soon the smell of barbeque will be in the air. Happy Fathers Day in the hood!

New Orleans Public Library: Alvar Branch
Condo sites in Bywater at hot dog plant
Cypress trees line the sidewalk of the library
The library’s water fountain