Loving Lake Bullard
Family-friendly neighborhood has lots to offer
Written by Jenny Peterson
Derrick Francis is someone who makes a difference in his community. And he especially takes pride in his Lake Bullard Neighborhood. Francis and his wife Christina were born and raised in the East; both moved back to the area in 2010 after earning their degrees at Old Dominion University. The couple settled in the Lake Bullard Neighborhood, an established, upscale suburban neighborhood of 289 owner-occupied homes built around Lake Bullard.
The neighborhood is about a mile from popular East New Orleans attractions like Joe W. Brown Memorial Park and the Audubon Nature Center. “Everybody in the neighborhood works hard, takes care of their homes; it’s a tight-knit community,” Francis said. “A lot of people there purchased homes in the late 1970s, early 1980s.” In 2015, Francis took over as president of the Lake Bullard Neighborhood Improvement District (LBNID), which oversees the neighborhood tax district, handling neighborhood security and beautification. Now raising a two-year-old daughter in the neighborhood, Derrick and Christina are passionate about keeping the Lake Bullard Neighborhood a special, attractive, safe, family-friendly community.
One thing that sets the Lake Bullard Neighborhood apart is the neighborhood-sponsored private security service. Private patrols canvas the neighborhood and are on-call for residents each day. “It’s one of the safest neighborhoods in the city,” Francis said. “It was a gem when it was first built, and it’s still very much that way,” he said. Last year, Francis helped launch the Lake Bullard Security App, a free mobile app for residents to communicate with the security patrols and each other, as well as to make reports. Francis has experience in website development and content management as the creator of the website Bizzemo, a nationwide directory of minority-owned and women-owned businesses. He volunteered his expertise in technology to create the mobile security app. “It’s made a huge difference,” he said.
Through the neighborhood improvement district, Francis also coordinates neighborhood beautification. “We added new landscaping to the neighborhood entrance sign and new lettering,” he said. “We also worked with the City of New Orleans on getting streets striped, and we got street signs redone. When people came home, they feel good about where they live.”
Francis said there has always been a real sense of community in Lake Bullard. On any given day, you can see neighbors jogging around palm-lined neighborhood streets. Large homes surrounding the lake create a peaceful, family-friendly atmosphere. Francis’ efforts have paid off. “It’s beautiful, and there’s a lot of space to run around. It’s family-friendly and secure. Homes for sale here don’t stay on the market long,” Francis said.
Recent nearby developments include Lake Forest Charter School, a blue-ribbon school that built its campus across from the Lake Bullard neighborhood, and the new campus of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
Each year, Lake Bullard neighbors gather for a Christmas social – an event with music, food and updates on the neighborhood’s progress. “I’m always excited to meet the new people coming into the neighborhood,” Francis said. “We all work together to make the neighborhood beautiful and we always look out for each other.” This sense of community involvement was most recently displayed by Lake Bullard and surrounding neighborhoods coming together to help others in the wake of the tornado that hit another nearby New Orleans East community in early 2017.
“The Lake Bullard and Eastover neighborhoods donated almost $1,000 in water and supplies to those affected,” Francis said.
Derrick and Christina’s love of their neighborhood runs deep. He jokes that on their first meeting in college when Christina told him she said was born and raised in New Orleans East, he almost asked her to marry him on the spot. Several years later, he recalls, “When my wife and I were looking for homes to buy in New Orleans, I asked her, ‘Where do you want to live?’ She said, ‘Lake Bullard.’ I said, ‘Ok, what’s your second choice?’ She said, ‘Lake Bullard.’”