Okay, a nod to Stephen Colbert is due here or the little “neo-con” poop will probably sue me.
Tonight we start our multi-part series on the 97th State House District. First we will examine the make-up of the area contained within the District. Next will be the current problems each neighborhood faces in the Post-Deluge world. Later we will examine the two candidates in the November 7th General Election and their visions for the District and whether or not this will create improvement for their constituants.
The 97th is a really odd District. It lays across the city from the river to the lake. It contains parts of the Bywater, St. Roch, St. Claude, Gentilly Terrace, Dillard, St. Anthony, Gentilly Woods, Milneburg, Pontchartrain Park, Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks. It’s a maddening example of Gerrymandering, except I can’t understand why any party would want it that way.
Though the majority of the District is residential peppered with small businesses, there is the commercial area along Chef Menteur in the Gentilly area and the light industrial areas of St. Roch Bend and Sugar Hill. The railroad corrider and the Florida canal effectively cut the 97th in half, and it also gives an explanation for the differences between one half and the other.
Starting at the river is the Bywater, haven for Bohemians and fairly prosperous. Most of what is a worry there is retaining the spirit and feel of the area, especially with the coming redevelopment of the river front. Their major battles at this time are to keep rents from spiraling out of control and the possibility of high-rise condos being built. Population Post-Deluge is fairly high there.
Next we come to St.Roch/St. Claude. These areas are predominantly Black (88.2%) and many buildings are in various states of disrepair, blighted being a good term for the worst of them. Except for a smattering of businesses on St. Claude Ave. and spots in the neighborhoods, there is no great Retail presence. Streets are in horrible disrepair. Much of the population has returned.
Lakeside of the railroad corrider things change. The population is mixed, blighted housing is not a major problem, and there were areas of retail establishments unlike the riverside of the corridor. This area was mostly devasted by the Deluge and their population recovery has been fairly slow. It is one of the most heavily organized areas in the city since the Flood and has been singled out as a good test area for the start of the rebuilding efforts.
The 97th has it’s quandries, and our next segment will look at the runoff candidates and their priorities.