The Mandeville city’s lakefront, known as the “crown jewel” of Mandeville and St. Tammany Parish is quite the talk of the town lately. On July 23, 2015, the Mandeville City Council voted 3-1 to establish an ordinance that will allow special events at four designated areas The Mandeville Trailhead of the Tammany Trace, Sunset Point, the east end at the harbor, and about a three-and-a-half block area just west of Girod St. to the east of Ravine aux Coquille. The ordinance will not block the public events such as festivals, concerts and road races, but will mandate the exact area in which the events will be held.
The City Council believes that the ordinance will help to “preserve and protect the lakefront for the entire community.” Many Old Mandeville residents feel it will help preserve the grand homes and the irreplaceable oak trees around the lakefront, which will help ensure the city’s old world charm and unique character. Homeowners have concerns regarding noise levels and crowds. Numerous complaints from homeowners have been received by the city regarding lakefront events with concerns such as noise, traffic and trash. An amendment to prohibit “amplified music” was proposed but dropped for fear of the negative impact it would have on big events such as the annual Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra concert on the lakefront.
On the flip side, Donald Villere, Mandeville’s mayor, vetoed the ordinance approval that restricts where special events can be held in the city. He believes that it will only hinder the community by eliminating a nice portion of the lakefront where people hold special events. The majority of the area specifically prohibited by the ordinance’s includes the widest and shadiest portion of the shoreline.
Villere commented that, “This ordinance is not only bad policy; it stands against the core values Mandeville was founded on.” The Mandeville Family Reunion event held every year uses the lakefront as their picnic area. Members are distraught with the idea of having to lose the lakefront spot.
Even with homeowners’ concerns, the land which consists of the Mandeville lakefront is zoned as mixed use of residential and commercial developments. Because of this Mandeville’s growing population and the lakefront’s popularity is bringing a demand for more development. Younger families are attracted to the live, work and play feel of the community. Brad Del Rio says he likes the neighborhood’s “walkability,” which allows him to amble to restaurants, retail shops and other businesses.
The fight might be a moot point as a new residential and retail development, Port Marigny, with approximately 500 housing units, retail outlets including a grocery store, four restaurants, a boutique hotel, a public park, a marina and promenade is slated to be built on 78-acres west of the Mandeville Lakefront. New Urbanism expert Steven Oubre says, “Old Mandeville is one of the most unique and special places in all of Louisiana. We are taking that context and expanding it to create Port Marigny.” Port Marigny will be built where the old Pre-Stressed Concrete Products plant sits. The new community will highlight the Old Mandeville charm, observing its ambiance and nuances. Mandeville’s lakefront and city might very well be redefined by the Port Marigny project.