After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans’ City Hall poured a lot of money into spiffing up the French Quarter, the thinking being that the best way to get the Big Easy back on its feet was to attract even more tourists to the likes of Bourbon Street.
The results have not been lost on anyone who has visited the city in recent years. Once a collection point for puke, trash and a host of unpleasant odors, the French Quarter now shines. But for how long?
The global financial crisis isn’t sparing the French Quarter. The city is talking about dramatically cutting back on the extra $4 million in cleaning and sanitation services — including having workers on the streets 20 hours a day — it has been spending in the district in recent years.
Starting January 31, there will still be trash collection, but services like street washing and mechanical street sweeping are likely to be eliminated, and 75 sanitation workers could be removed from the streets.
So, as Mardi Gras fast approaches, is the French Quarter destined to return to its past grimy state? Some neighborhood denizens fear so.
The Associated Press has this good report on the Quarter and the current budget battle that is putting its cleanliness and overall transformation in jeopardy.