planning, planning, planning
C and I went to the Mid-City Planning meeting tonight at Grace Episcopal on Canal Street. There were about 50 people there. Lots of very interested people, concerning about the fate of New Orleans and their neighborhoods. C had been to a few Broadmoor meetings, but that group really took off and left him behind. Besides since he is kinda stuck in the middle of 5 or 6 distinct planning neighborhoods, and we both seem to embrace the Mid-City area more, he wanted to go tonight so I oblidged.
First off, there was a film crew from Nashville, taking shots of the folks at the meeting. One young lady came to the front and told a story about a 78 year old lady who got her insurance money, paid a contractor to do all the work remodeling her home, the contractor ripped out her flooring, then promptly split with her money, never to be heard from again. Well Dr. Phil heard about this poor woman’s plight and offered to rebuild her home, the entire home, demolish and rebuild anew in TEN DAYS!!!! A collective gasp was heard around the room, and everyone was curious about the outcome, so stay tuned to Dr. Phil for the show. Or if you are in the city, drive to the 300 block of S. Johnson and check it out for yourself. And while you’re at it, can someone track down that slimy contractor and give them a good smacking dose of karma – I am trying to bite my tongue here, but if it were me to find him, I’d shoot the motherfucker!!!!
Back to the meeting – seems that Schwartz Architects from New York are taking over Districts 3 and 4 for the New Orleans planning commission. This in addition to the Rockefeller folks doing something with some grant money somewhere in the city. To add more confusion, the LRA is concentrating on residential areas first, then on the commercial and municipal rebuilding such as neighborhood clinics, libraries and green space. The decentralization of the New Orleans Charity Hospital system will finally come to fruition. The active members of the Mid-City coalition were distraught because there will be yet another group to present their plans to and pursue action. Must be very frustrating to folks that have invested so much time and passion into something that just seems to go poof. The LRA (Louisiana Recovery Authority) definitely wants neighborhood input on all of its decisions, but one gets the feeling that whomever controls the pursestring of the wish list of the residents will get the final say over what eventually manifests. And that in itself is very deflating…
We heard some good discussion, made a few contacts, got on a listserv, and was even handed a disc for the Gerttown association. Now to just hand something this big over to someone that does not technically live in Gerttown is huge, and I feel like I’ve violated the sanctity of that neighborhood, but in the end I will try to do my best to find the proper people to pass copies of this information along to. I got a couple of contacts, one at Xavier, another a minister in the neighborhood and hopefully the data can be spread through the proper channels.
A couple depressing things I found out tonight. Mississippi is 6 months ahead of Louisiana, and the LRA is held up because of the 19 disaster parishes from Katrina and Rita, Orleans parish is the only area that has not submitted its plan. OP is holding up the rest of the state of Louisiana from progressing, and this is because the LRA must present a unified plan to the Feds before the process can begin. Also, another planning body has been thrown into the mix, and I could just feel the frustration and realization setting in from the regular participants at the meeting that their “utopia” idea of Mid-City might never appear. Thirdly, there are several neighborhoods that are in various stages in planning, and some have not done a thing yet, the 7th ward being a glaring absence. If someone knows info about the 7th ward to the contrary please let me know, cause I don’t want to pass along erroneous information. But to not even have one community resident step forward or speak up is unfathomable.
The main consensus of the evening with the group – don’t wait for the city, rebuild your home on your land, and sit and wait to see how the house of cards will be built – or not
here are some websites to peruse about all that went on tonight