Bouncing sign irks New Sarpy residents
Many say boundary should include part of Ormond, slice of Good Hope Street
|Shonna Riggs/Herald Guide|
Rev. Albert Bailey says he will lead a protest march if the New Sarpy boundaries are not returned to their original location.
That would make a portion of Ormond subdivision in Destrehan and an area of Good Hope Street in Norco part of New Sarpy.
“Everyone knows where New Sarpy originally started, especially those who have lived here all of their lives,” Rev. Albert Bailey, who is president of the local Southern Christian Leadership Chapter and a longtime resident of New Sarpy, said. “They know that east of Ormond Boulevard is supposed to be New Sarpy, not Destrehan. When Mr. Stanford Caillouet, who was a lifelong resident of New Sarpy, was still alive the signs stayed in the right place because he wouldn't allow parish officials to move them, but when he died last year, the parish had the signs moved.”
Bailey and several other residents say the community is being systematically squeezed out.
“We may not be economically wealthy like some other areas in the parish, but we deserve a voice and a chance to be heard,” Ed Burks, a lifelong resident of New Sarpy, said. “By moving the boundary lines we've lost about 1,500 of our residents and it's basically wiping New Sarpy off the map.”
Councilwoman-at-large Carolyn Schexnaydre agrees with the group.
“I remember when I was in high school the New Sarpy sign was in the location Rev. Bailey is talking about, but then somehow it got moved,” she said. “I think this community deserves to be taken out of this box.”
Schexnaydre says the sign used to be placed just before Brown's curve in Destrehan.
“But as I got older the sign has been moved around quite a bit.” Schexnaydre said. “It's like a bouncing sign. Someone seems to be having problems figuring out where it's supposed to go.”
Burks says there are three reasons he wants the boundary lines put back to the way they were before - economics, growth and community pride. Bailey agrees.
“I've lived here all my life and that's the way things were as we long as we can remember,” Bailey said. “Why would they want to change it?”
At a meeting held with council members Wendy Benedetto, Marcus Lambert and Schexnaydre, along with Chief Administrative Officer Tim Vial, Rev. Gordon Taylor, Bailey and Burks last week, the group voiced their concerns about the issue, but many residents don't feel like anything was accomplished.
“If the New Sarpy boundary sign was in the right place, it would start on the east side of Ormond Boulevard,” Bailey said. “We're stuck in one area with no representation.”
Bailey said the boundary lines weren't changed until Parish President Albert Laque's term in 2000. He says residents will protest if the sign isn't put back where it was before.
“I'm willing to go as far as I have to go with this,” Bailey said. “I will organize a march and take this to a national level to make sure our voices are heard.”
Both Bailey and Burks feel that the shrinking boundaries not only have an affect on their community's economy and growth, but also hurts the area when it comes to political representation.
“They took about 1,500 citizens from us,” Bailey said. “New Sarpy is now 52 percent black as opposed to 60 percent white, which is the way it was before the parish moved the boundary line.”
Benedetto needs more information before she presents her comments on the issue.
“I don't have enough information on the issue to decide one way or the other,” Benedetto said. “However, I did attend the meeting. My hope is that they make their issues clear before the Parish Council so we can resolve the issue with them in a positive manner.”
Burks and Bailey are working on a presentation to bring before the council. That presentation will explain why they want the boundary sign moved back to its original location.
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