Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Monday unveiled the list of local groups receiving Edward Wisner grants this year, apparently signaling the status quo remains in place for the contested piece of coastal real estate that has produced the revenue for Wisner grants going back decades.Back in September the Wisner heirs fighting to maintain control of the land trust that produces these grants lost rather decisively to the city in court but are still holding out hope that the State Supreme Court will take up their appeal.
More than 60 organizations, ranging from the Louisiana Children’s Museum to St. Augustine High School, will share about $1.2 million this year.
The Advocate doesn't list all of this year's recipients but the city's website does if you are interested.
If there are further details as to the amounts distributed, they aren't posted in an obvious place. As you can see from the list, though, this money (however much of it might be waste or patronage or wasted patronage or whatever) actually does a lot of good. Which is one reason the thought that the city might sell this golden goose is concerning.
Some of the heirs have said they worry Landrieu will simply sell off the land, part of which holds Port Fourchon, a hub for vessels serving offshore rigs.
The proceeds of such a sale would presumably be split among all of the beneficiaries that get a cut of the land’s proceeds today, including the city, Tulane University, the Salvation Army, LSU and a collection of some 50 different individuals. But the land would be gone as a regular source of income.
The mayor so far has not made any moves in that direction, although he said Monday that his administration is in the middle of evaluating how much the land is really worth.
He compared it to the Public Belt Railway, another city property that Landrieu has said he would be willing to at least consider selling. “I’m going to make sure that asset is valued correctly,” he said.
Like the Public Belt, it's not an easy asset to value. For instance, it might depend on how many Georges family members are interested in buying.
There's also the problem of just how long term an investment in land in that area really stands to run. Now might, in fact, be the time to get out of that sinking plot.