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Gordon Plaza Residents Continue To Ask City For Help

Tegan Wendland
Residents and advocates gathered outside City Hall on Thursday after meeting with Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The residents of Gordon Plaza continue to lobby city government to do something about the polluted land the community was built on. Advocates met with Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Thursday and held a press conference in front of City Hall afterwards.

Gordon Plaza was developed in the 70s and 80s as low-income housing and became a predominantly black neighborhood. Before that, it was the Agriculture Street landfill. In the 1990’s the Environmental Protection Agency designated it as a superfund site.

Residents have claimed the pollution is making them sick for years. They want to move, and they are asking the city to relocate them.

Marilyn Amar was greeted by supporters as she left the mayor’s office. She’s a homeowner and advocate for the neighborhood. Amar said, “We’ve been in this struggle too long.” She called for action, “We’ve been waiting over 25 years. We need the city of New Orleans to reconsider and give us a fully-funded relocation.”

Residents have filed lawsuits against the city in an effort to fund relocation. The city says it is working with the EPA to clean it up.

Advocates gave Cantrell an update on how many residents are sick and how many have died of cancer. They say she listened, but they didn’t get any specific answers. Cantrell’s office says the mayor “continues to explore opportunities for a possible resolution,” but declined to comment saying the case was still under litigation.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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