METAIRIE—A project that hopes to make Jefferson Parish more attractive to tourists is pushing out locals. WGNO's Vanessa Bolano explains what's happening.
Metairie resident, Lee Mancuso says, "I usually stand on the side walk side, but occasionally we would walk to the neutral ground side."
Neutral ground side versus sidewalk side; it's debated every Carnival Season, but now some Metairie neutral ground fans may have to watch from the sidewalk side.
John Smestad says, "Right here at Mardi Gras time every year something seems to be going on the neutral ground that affects its use."
This year efforts by Jefferson Parish to beautify are frustrating some. Eight blocks of neutral ground on Veterans Memorial Boulevard are getting a facelift from Aurora Avenue to Oaklawn Drive.
The parish is plating trees, shrubs, and show casing artwork all to attract visitors.
Sean Burke, Director of the Department of Citizens' Affairs says, "The beautification, what they found, brings in more economic impact towards Jefferson Parish."
The project has been paid for by businesses and is modeled after what's been done in Destin, but residents here say it's left them with less options when it comes to enjoying parades.
Michael Graythen says, "It's really bad time to start the construction being Mardi Gras season and everybody trying to be on the neutral ground."
Smestad says, "To me they could have waited a month and then got it all done."
The project was supposed to be done by now, but cold fronts delayed it. Now all the parish is asking for is cooperation.
"We understand their frustrations, we ask them to bear with us to be patient, to work through this; we are keeping them in mind when we do these different projects," says Burke.
Not all the neutral ground is off limits, just those sectioned off by orange fencing.
The next Metairie parade isn't until Friday. Parish officials hope this two week inconvenience during Mardi Gras will result in a lifetime of beauty.