The New Orleans Fire Department told NOLA.Com it had agreed to a bonfire in Mid-City on New Years Eve with restrictions, but Mid-City neighborhood sources indicated that the agreement still required a response from the New Orleans Police Department.
In an email to participants in a meeting held Tuesday morning in Mid-City to prepare a proposal to present to city officials, an agreement was reached with the NOFD contingent on the NOPD providing barricades and closing the north side of Orleans Avenue to traffic for fire personnel assigned to the event. There was no reported response from the NOPD as of this evening.
Fire Department District Chief Norman Woodridge described to NOLA.Com the outcome of a meeting between a delegation from Mid-City with the NOFD facilitated by City Councilmember Arnie Fielkow and Shelly Midura. Fielkow attended an early morning meeting at a Mid-City coffee house at which a group of pro-bonfire Mid-Citizens outlined a proposal to offer to the NOFD to try to allay fire official's concerns.
The morning meeting followed a contentious town-hall meeting called by city officials including the NOFD, NOPD and Park and Parkways Comission at which over 150 Mid-Citizens greeted city official's objections to the bonfire with derision. Fire officials had circulated a flyer in the neighborhood announcing the meeting as an "Illegal Bonfires Informational Session."
The Mid-Citizens group outlined a plan this morning that offered to relocate the bonfire to another Mid-City location, reduce the size and configuration of the bonfire, and to provide crowd marshals and a clean up crew. They offered to post signs to discourage some activities that led to the official move against the bonfire, including excessive use of fireworks, fireworks and other material thrown into the fire while it was burning, and occasional nudity as people people performed a ritual run around the bonfire residents say is for good luck in the New Year.
Those involved in the morning meeting were already moving to recruit volunteer marshals and clean-up crew through the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization mailing list. An effort will be made to provide collection of excess trees brought by the neighborhood beyond what the NOFD will allow to divert them to state and local programs that use discarded trees for coastal restoration projects.