In The News › Residents discuss concerns with council

Jun 4, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

Residents discuss concerns with council

Residents discuss concerns with council
Issues include blight, pedestrian lighting
Sunday, June 04, 2006
By Karen Turni Bazile
Staff writer

About 1,000 New Orleans residents attended four community meetings Saturday as part of a post-Katrina planning effort launched by the City Council, touching on housing blight and economic development issues.

The council-led program is continuing despite a backdrop of uncertainty about how it will mesh with a neighborhood planning exercise backed by the Louisiana Recovery Authority, to be financed by a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

Miami-based planner Paul Lambert said concerns raised Saturday ranged from how residents can address blighted apartment developments to desires for better uses of commercial property. Two meetings were called in eastern New Orleans and one each was held in Gert Town and in the Tulane Avenue-South Claiborne Avenue area. The eastern New Orleans meetings, at the St. Maria Goretti Community Center, drew several hundred people.

“Depending on the meeting, there was any number of projects or investments that people wanted to see, from pedestrian-level street lighting in Gert Town . . . to broader-scale issues, such as making accommodations for retail opportunities around Six Flags,” the eastern New Orleans amusement park that officials hope will reopen, Lambert said.

Lambert and Shelia Danzey, a New Orleans-based consultant, were hired by the City Council to get planning under way after a citywide process, called for by Mayor Ray Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission, stalled due to a lack of funding.

The City Council committed nearly $3 million to its process, which drew criticism from the Bureau of Governmental Research because the council didn’t use a competitive process in its hiring of consultants. Danzey said the team has met with groups that were already at work on rebuilding plans, and the Saturday meetings were devoted to others that needed more technical help.

Lambert said Saturday’s meetings focused on helping residents identify issues and opportunities since Hurricane Katrina. Some problems may be easier to correct since the hurricane, he said, citing the concentration of multi-family complexes along Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans. Zoning changes may lessen residential density in the corridor, and mitigation grants could be used to covert some land to green space, he said.

“It would have been a very slow process to deal with that before Katrina,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the next round of council-sponsored meetings will discuss specific land-use projects. Residents need to explain their priorities in using federal grants to rebuild streets, parks or schools, he said. The planning effort should last until the end of August, he said.

A meeting will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in the St. Claude-St. Roch area at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 1835 St. Roch Ave.

For more information on the City Council’s planning process, call (504) 588-9068 or check the Web site www.nolanrp.com.

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Karen Turni Bazile can be reached at kturni@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3335.

Jun 4, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

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