NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans East residents have a lot to consider after listening to an assessment of the old, Six Flags Jazzland property. Independent consultants gave a presentation on the property, Thursday, in what the district's Council member calls the beginning of a serious conversation.
It's 160 acres of property, sitting stale and unused, falling deeper into disrepair.
"It's ridiculous," said New Orleans East resident Alexcher Short. "It's time now for us to say enough is enough."
Residents like Short are tired of meetings and studies. She wants to see the land converted back into a theme park.
"I don't need to go to Baton Rouge to Blue Bayou. I want to come here. It's a big enough place. It's a pretty place and it can still be that way," Short said.
Yet, the independent consultants who presented their assessment say it's not that simple. NOLA Business Alliance hired TIP Strategies and Perkins and Will. The consultants say the market must be taken into account and, in 14 years, it hasn't responded to the theme park concept.
Consultants say a better use would benefit off of the natural resources, due to the fact it's the second largest urban wildlife refuge in the country. What's more, they say 62-percent of the site is projected for land loss in the next 10 years. Taking that into consideration, as well as job creation and what would offer the best return on investment for the community, consultants recommended an edutainment destination— a vision combining education and research with tourism— complete with a trailhead, excursion center where tours could depart and a community connection space.
"We don't need anymore water. We have enough water out here. We know how to live with water," Short said before the meeting.
She isn't keen on the idea, but those who conducted the study insist this is a concept, not a project.
“No decision about the ultimate use of Jazzland has been made or was intended to be made from this. Ultimately, whoever has the cash, is going to make that decision. That’s just keeping it 100-percent,” explained NOLA Business Alliance President and CEO Quentin Messer.
Nguyen agrees, saying she's open to all options, as long as they're viable, sustainable and developers are on board.
"At the end of the day, who is going to have the capital and investment to deliver for us?" Nguyen asked. "My only agenda is to fully develop this property where young people can have job opportunities, where the community can thrive, where our economic corridor can get a boost and where residents will have quality of life."
Consultants say any proposal will have to go through a rigorous, master planning process.
Nguyen says this discussion, which should have started years ago, will be a multi-step process involving residents every step of the way. She encourages them to be patient and stay engaged.