In The News › State & City Talk Recovery

May 27, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

State & City Talk Recovery

State and city to talk recovery
Neighborhoods begin crafting their plans
Saturday, May 27, 2006

By Coleman Warner
Staff writer

With pressure building to mesh New Orleans’ disparate post-Katrina neighborhood recovery
efforts, city officials and Gov. Kathleen Blanco are expected to meet next week to discuss a
range of issues.

Many New Orleans residents are confused about how neighborhood planning under the direction
of the Blanco-appointed Louisiana Recovery Authority, or LRA, will mesh with work begun weeks
ago by planning consultants hired by the City Council.

In addition, several neighborhood groups are crafting their own recovery plans, without waiting
for government direction.

“There’s no clarity,” said LaToya Cantrell, president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association.
“People are confused.”

One member of an LRA planning task force, Melissa Flournoy, said: “We’ve got to move a little
bit faster here, you know.”

Flournoy touched on frustration many have expressed about months of delay in a neighborhood
planning effort that was launched by Mayor Ray Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission
and ran into a giant snag when it couldn’t persuade the Federal Emergency Management
Agency to provide millions of dollars for technical assistance.

After committing $3.5 million last month for work on a LRA-backed rebuilding plan, a key step in
efforts to secure federal money for land-use projects, the Rockefeller Foundation wouldn’t
discuss what a spokesman called an “unfolding” process.

But Ben Johnson, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which is helping
the New York-based Rockefeller administer the grant, said: “If we’re going to get involved, there
has to be an alignment” among different planning efforts. He noted that, ultimately, any New
Orleans plan must fit within the LRA’s regional planning scheme.

“Great conversations are being had; great opportunities are being discussed,” Johnson said.
“This is a complicated conversation.”

Walter Leger, an LRA member from St. Bernard Parish, said Blanco plans to meet privately on
Tuesday with Nagin and City Council representatives. LRA spokeswoman Catherine Heitman
confirmed Blanco’s intent to do so. “They’re going to talk about a number of issues, one of which
is planning,” Heitman said. Other meeting details weren’t available.

Nagin spokesman Terry Davis said a meeting with Blanco isn’t on Nagin’s schedule but that it
can happen on short notice. The Nagin administration couldn’t yet respond to questions about
how Nagin wants planning to move forward, he said.

City Council President Oliver Thomas said during Thursday’s council meeting that he had met
with Blanco and the two agreed that all recovery plans must be tied together.

The council approved a resolution promising that its neighborhood planning, overseen by
consultants Paul Lambert of Miami and Shelia Danzey of New Orleans, would be coordinated
with efforts of the LRA and other state and federal agencies to make sure they are consistent.
While the Rockefeller Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation say they will use a
competitive process in hiring consultants, the City Council recently awarded a contract worth
nearly $3 million to Lambert and Danzey without seeking competitive proposals. The Bureau of
Governmental Research earlier this month said the contract should be canceled because the
City Council violated its own rules.

But council members said this week the consultants are moving the broader planning effort
forward and that they want the work to continue.

Five community meetings staged by teams hired by the City Council have been held so far, with
another set of meetings to be held June 3. Some neighborhood activists complain there has
been too little advance notice for meetings, and there are mixed views about whether input
provided will have any lasting impact.

Asked about marriage between the council and LRA planning efforts, Lambert said, “The details
of that, there isn’t a lot of clarity . . . We’re forging ahead because the last thing that needs to
happen is a delay in the process.”
. . . . . . .
Coleman Warner can be reached at or (504) 826-3311.

May 27, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

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