The idea of the French Quarter becoming a big theme park is maybe an overused metaphor. It's a reliable way to describe the deleterious effects of tourism and gentrification there and in other neighborhoods. Those things are very bad, of course. And they do cause the Quarter to be treated like an immersive theater for tourists instead of a place where real people go to work and shop and, yes, still, actually live.
But actually going the whole nine and just making it into a park? That's actually way more complicated a deal than what Billy Nungesser's brain is likely to get a grip on.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser wants to see the French Quarter safer, cleaner and perhaps a little bit more "family friendly." The solution? He proposes turning the historic district into a Louisiana state park.Inside Billy's mind: "Hi I'm Billy and I'm the Sheriff this whole territory and all the security and sanitation contracts contained within." But there are so many other matters to consider. How much property has to be acquired or expropriated? Which governmental body has authority over what. What is the role of the Vieux Carre Commission, the French Market Corp., the twenty other non-profits and quasi-governmental boards who have their fingers in the pie down there? It's a lot of stuff to deal with.
"If we want to change things, we have to think outside of the box," Nungesser said in an interview Monday (July 30).
Nungesser, who oversees state parks and historical sites in his role as lieutenant governor, said a public designation for the French Quarter would come with its own set of rules, separate from other parks, because of its existing businesses and occupants.
"But we could have a park ranger on every corner and a contract to keep it clean. It would be a focus for me, just like I focus on keeping our state parks safe," he said.
Also, isn't Billy's department out of money anyway?
The lieutenant governor also didn't say that turning the French Quarter into a state park would lead to more funding for public safety or cleanup. Tight state budgets in recent years have resulted in maintenance delays at state park facilities. Before the current state budget was finalized last month, parks were facing possible closure because of a lack of money.Don't know about y'all but I for one cannot wait to take a stroll down Maker's Mark Bourbon Street before heading over toThe Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation's Jackson Square presented by Dixie Beer.
Nungesser has worked to get private financing for state parks, including exploring sponsorships and naming rights.
Actually, this is all just a scheme by Billy to head off any effort to take down the Jackson statue, isn't it?