Pothole causing serious damage to cars

July 14, 2008

‘Huge trench’ is ‘axle-breaking bad’

By Jonathan Edwards

Paint scrapes and metallic grooves mark the foot-wide, six-inch-deep trench stretching across the 4200 block of St. Peter Street. It is causing significant damage to passing cars, residents fear.

Wanda O’Shello lives next to the pothole. She has already put a garbage can wrapped in bright yellow caution tape to warn drivers of the “ravine.” She was planning a grander gesture as soon as she finished mowing her lawn Monday morning, a sign welcoming drivers to the Grand Canyon.

People can see the pothole during the day, O’Shello said, but at night she hears them scraping the undercarriage of their cars all night. “I can’t imagine they’re not doing serious damage.”

Amy Rini has already done that damage to her car. “Over the past few days, the trench has deepened, and yesterday, going as slow as possible, I still scraped the underbody of my car.”

Lisha Troncoso, like O’Shello, lives next to the trench. She said the Sewerage and Water Board tore up the street to fix a broken water main about two months ago. After they finished repairs, they filled the hole with sand.

But rains washed the sand away, “and the hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper,” Troncoso said.

As of Sunday morning, Mark Folse said it was “axle-breaking bad.”

Troncoso called to file a complaint two weeks ago, and the S&WB told her that the city had hired a contractor to fix the pothole. They could not tell her when the work would be completed.

“I don’t ever drive that way down the street anymore,” said Troncoso. “I drive the wrong way (down the one-way street). They’re ripping the bottoms of their cars up. It’s ridiculous.”

Multiple residents have reported the pothole to New Orleans’s beleaguered 311 phone system. Those residents said operators estimated it would take the city four to six weeks to repair.

All circuits were busy for both the S&WB and 311 when contacted for this story.

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Street festival will bring food and free music to neighborhood

July 9, 2008

By Jonathan Edwards

Free live music, fresh food from award-winning restaurants and strong drink will highlight the 2nd Annual Bastille Day Festival this Saturday evening at the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street.

The Faubourg-St. John Merchants Association will close off the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the street fair, which will feature an arts and crafts table for children, the bands Vavavoom and The String Beans, and petanque, a French lawn game similar to bocce.

“Last year was a lot of fun—huge turnout. The music is great. It was just packed. We’re all looking forward to it,” said Erin Peacock, the co-owner of Lux, a high-end spa on Ponce de Leon Street.

Peacock estimated that 500 people showed up last year. She expects an even higher turnout this year since the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau listed the event on their Web site. Katrinafilm features a three-minute video and photo montage of last year’s festivites.

Nearly a dozen neighborhood businesses will have booths offering fair-goers everything from fine cuisine, to wine and beer, to tee-shirts and soap.

Laurent Rochereux is a sous-chef at Café Degas, a neighborhood French bistro known for top-notch dining, and said they will serve a white bean and duck confit salad topped with a cherry vinagrette.

Chris Reel is the executive chef at la Vita, an Italian restaurant just down the street. His street-fair fare will include an eclectic combination of köfte (Turkish-style meatballs), along with Creole tomato gazpacho, a Mediterranean salad served with a lemon vinagrette, and margaritas. Prices will range from four to six dollars.

Fair Grinds Coffeehouse will serve ice cream sandwiches in a variety of flavors, including Creole cream cheese, “a local favorite” according to Robert Thompson, the coffee shop’s co-owner.

The festival is not only a chance to buy things, but also an opportunity for neighbors and local businesses to come together.

“This is a very active community in this neighborhood,” said Peacock. “People are very supportive of the businesses here. It’s a very positive thing for everybody. It doesn’t take much for people to decide they want to have a party.”