Nonprofit Hopes To Reopen Pontchartrain Beach For Swimming

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — More than 30 years after it closed as an amusement park, Pontchartrain Beach could once again become a family destination — although no roller coasters will be involved this time.

         The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation pitched a plan Thursday to reopen the historic Pontchartrain Beach site as a public swimming area and nature preserve, Times-Picayune’s Mark Schleifstein reports.

         An Orleans Levee District committee gave its unanimous support of the plan and will recommend it to the full authority board for approval next week. The committee says it will ask the board to lease the area to the nonprofit at a nominal cost.

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         Located just north of the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park, the site was the home of the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park for 44 years. It closed in 1983 because of dwindling crowds.

         Dwight Williams, acting executive director of the foundation, said there are no plans to add amusement park attractions to the site.

         Officials plan to open the area on a trial basis for a year and hold fundraising events so the property could be better developed. The foundation has already started pushing for cleanup of the lake's waters and is regularly testing for pollutants, Williams said.

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         Williams said there are no immediate plans to add structures on the property yet. Food could be provided by food trucks, while sanitary facilities would be limited to portable toilets.

         An education outreach area would be developed on the western edge, where children could be taught how to fish.

         Access to the beach has been closed since two people drowned in the area in 2012.

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