In The News › Watchdog: City should rewrite recovery plan

Mar 6, 2007

Source: Times-Picayune

Watchdog: City should rewrite recovery plan

Watchdog: City should rewrite recovery plan

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A $14 billion blueprint for rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina is a
muddled wish-list of projects, and city officials should use the best parts to create a more cohesive,
realistic plan, a watchdog group says.

The recommendation by the New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research comes near
the end of a months-long planning process.

“If we’re going to have a plan, it’s very important to get it right,” BGR’s president, Janet Howard,
said Tuesday. “What we’re dealing with now is basically a wish list, devised without realistic
consideration of financial parameters.”

The Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency overseeing distribution of certain federal aid
dollars, is waiting for a city-wide plan to help guide how it doles out nearly $120 million to New
Orleans for storm-related projects. City officials have cast the plan as a lobbying tool, to take to
Congress for more money.

But BGR, an independent non-profit group, says the Unified New Orleans Plan, now making its
way through city government, isn’t clear about priorities and “instead chooses to maintain the
indecisive and confusing approach that has characterized New Orleans’ recovery for a year and a
half.”

Planners gave projects a value of 1 to 5 — 5 being the highest — based on what was deemed
important to the city’s recovery and likely to attract more investment. A teaching hospital and public
housing topped a list of 91 projects, over rebuilding schools, replacing police equipment and
implementing an incentive program to raise homes and businesses.

BGR, in a report released late Monday, said it is “unclear where and how community input,
professional judgment or data drove tenets of the plan.” Howard said planners seemed to do their
best to avoid controversy. “We’re definitely not seeing any leadership,” she said.

The city planning commission has scheduled a second public hearing on the proposal Wednesday,
which Howard said she plans to attend.

The panel, which BGR suggests should take a lead in devising a “clear, data-driven and practical
recovery plan based on realistic financial considerations,” will consider approving the unified plan
in the coming weeks.

Residents who spoke during the first public hearing in late February seemed confused about the
plan, its priorities and how it would be implemented. And, at one point, when a resident asked
about timelines, members of the planning commission just looked at each other.

Several private consultants involved with the unified plan and the executive director of the planning
commission did not immediately return telephone calls.

Mar 6, 2007

Source: Times-Picayune

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