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Mayor calls out critics about riverfront

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BATON ROUGE - City leaders responded to criticisms Monday they haven't been doing enough for development along the Baton Rouge Riverfront.

Mayor-President Kip Holden and Davis Rhorer, the executive director of the Downtown Development District, held a hastily-called press conference Monday morning to answer criticisms they said were recently made by Metro Council Member John Delgado about the lack of economic growth.

"Well it's kind of amazing for a guy (Delgado) who was not here when we started laying out the plan for downtown to all of a sudden be a critic," Holden said.

The matter comes after the East Baton Rouge Metro Council voted to rezone a portion of land across from Farr Park, ending plans to build a barge-cleaning facility there. Property owners and Holden lobbied against the facility's construction, and Delgado voted in favor of rezoning.

Delgado told News 2 he doesn't believe industrial businesses should be located along the riverfront. He said the mayor is confused about the comments he made.

"If the mayor misunderstood what I said in the paper, he could have picked up the phone and called me. He's had my cell phone number for the last 15 years," Delgado said.

Maps recently released by city-parish planners show a large portion of the parish's riverfront property is zoned for industrial use. Projects such as the LSU River Campus are in the construction stages, and Holden said there has been more than a billion dollars invested in current and completed projects on the downtown riverfront.

Holde did say a lack of space, weakened levees and railroad laws have put the city in a terrible position to allow certain development and that he wants critics to back off.

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