Mid-City Needs a Plan

I’m going to try to articulate a few ideas knocking around in my head about the recovery of Mid-City.

Remember, the City Council’s planning process is now underway, and the common wisdom seems to be that if we don’t participate, we’ll be flattened.

Also, please realize that I don’t consider myself any kind of expert in urban planning or the like. I’m quite naïve in these matters. I’m just a concerned resident of Mid-City worried that if we don’t articulate a vision and a plan, someone else will, and it may not represent out best interests.
Continue reading “Mid-City Needs a Plan”

Nine Months Post-Katrina

Here’s a short (two minute) video for the nine month mark. I uploaded it to both Vimeo and YouTube, so take your pick.

The YouTube one was looking funny so I’m embedding Vimeo’s here, but you can access either via the links above.

And just to give you more options, you can also download it in .mov format (8.5 MB, requires QuickTime 7) or .m4v format (10 MB, supposedly iPod-friendly). Is this overkill? Let me know what works best for you!

See also: Eight Months, Six Months, Five Months.

An Ode on Future Storms

If Alberto avoids us
If Beryl doesn’t break us
If Chris doesn’t crush us
If Debby doesn’t drown us
If Ernesto doesn’t exile us
If Florence doesn’t flood us
If Gordon doesn’t gank us
If Helene doesn’t hammer us
If Isaac doesn’t ice us
If Joyce jogs away at the eleventh hour
If Kirk doesn’t kill us
If Leslie doesn’t level us
If Michael doesn’t maul us
If Nadine doesn’t nail us
If Oscar doesn’t overwhelm us
If Patty doesn’t pound us
If Rafael doesn’t ruin us
If Sandy doesn’t swamp us
If Tony doesn’t topple us
If Valerie veers away from us
If William doesn’t wallop us…

Then maybe we’ll live to masque another Mardi Gras.

How Old Is Our House Anyway?

When we bought our house we were told it was 80-100 years old. One of the papers says it was built in 1922, but I’m not sure I trust that. I did see an aerial photograph of the area from 1927 that appears to show our house, but it’s there’s not enough detail to make a conclusive ID — it could be another structure built at the same location.

I was talking with Mark the Carpenter this morning this morning, and he pointed out that the use of “dimensional lumber” would lead him to date the house to the 1950s. I was in shock. Post-WW2? Really? But that might explain the fact that it’s built on a slab, which I understand only became popular in the post-war era.

Now I’m doubly curious, and I’m going to find out. I’ve gotten some good advice from the preserveneworleans group. Seems I’ll need to make a trip to the Notarial Archives.


Somehow over the course of the last month or so, my frame of mind has slipped from tightly-bridled optimism to vague worry, mild stress and general foreboding. Perhaps it’s overextended civic involvement. At first, the fact that my neighborhood organization was planning a festival seemed like a case of misplaced priorities — like unto Nero with the fiddle. But upon second thought, maybe we need a good break just before hurricane season. So come check out the Bayou Boogaloo this weekend.

Work Resumes

Mark the Carpenter is back at work on our house today, after a hiatus of almost two months. Sadly, his helper Tony is not returning because of deteriorating mental health. He went off his meds and became increasingly reckless and deranged. Seems amongst other troubles he was in a car crash and the passenger was killed. Tony is now out of the hospital living in a homeless shelter on Camp. Our sympathies go out to him.


So Mark’s got a new helper, Mike — known as Vanny to avoid confusion with Mike the Electrician. (They were friends growing up in Brooklyn.) They are picking up where they left off, basically replacing all the structural wood on the left side of our house. The right side only took seven work days, but this will be slower going because there quite a few more impediments, such as the staircase and plumbing.


Best news I heard yesterday: People are finally starting to move into the trailer site a block from our house. The trailers have been sitting there empty for three months now. Hopefully we will have a couple hundred neighbors soon. Of course, this could create a whole host of new problems…

After Hike

The Second Annual Lafitte Corridor Rail Hike was a screaming success!

Railroad Crossing

On Sunday, May 21st, eighteen of us hiked about three miles from Armstrong Park to Canal Boulevard, right through Mid-City following the old Norfolk-Southern rail line. The Louisiana Institute of Film Technology is building a film studio on a key parcel of this land, and they’re including a bike path, which we hope will add momentum to our efforts. We plan to build a three mile bike path and linear park that will connect Armstrong Park to City Park and ultimately make it possible for people to walk or ride all the way from the river to the lake.

You can also see pix of this grand event taken by Michael and Bart.
If you’re interested, please join the FOLC discussion group.

Film Studio Under Fire — Not!

I’m disappointed by the spin of this article in City Business —laf the headline in particular. “Film studio under fire”? C’mon. No one is criticizing the LIFT project. In fact, everyone I’ve talked to is pretty excited about it. What we are questioning is process by which the public land was sold.

Fattening Frogs for Snakes

So I went to the neighborhood planning meeting for Mid-City and Gert Town Saturday morning, and was deeply disturbed by what I saw there. Something doesn’t smell right. It’s not just the lack of publicity for this particular meeting. The whole process seems suspect.

The aim is to come up with a recovery plan for each neighborhood by July, and then a comprehensive plan for the whole city in August. The plan would go to the City Planning Commission and then to the City Council (which body is sponsoring this whole process) and finally to the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

There’s a lot of money at stake here. Billions, I suppose. That federal money I keep hearing about, designated for rebuilding, is coming down to the LRA and they have to decide how to spend it. Established precedent from other disasters dictates that the devastated community should decide how to allocate these funds.

The planning process now under way seems to be designed to give the illusion of community participation — a veneer of legitimacy.

But it’s not the real thing. At least I don’t think it is. How could it be? The timeframe seems unrealistic. They want to cook up a plan for our whole neighborhood in two more meetings, from what I gather. That’s just not possible.

As one guy in the audience said, we’re “fattening frogs for snakes.” I never heard that expression before but it seems to fit. This looks like a scheme to get dollars into pockets, but whose pockets I don’t know.

Of course, I could be wrong. I hope I am. But it’s complicated. I have heard that the LRA will only accept plans for New Orleans that have the City Council’s stamp of approval. And with Saturday’s election, we effectively have a new city council.

I need to figure this out and fast. The pressing question for neighborhood organizations: repudiate or participate?

How I’m Voting in the Runoff

I got my sample ballot. Here’s how I plan to vote in the runoff Saturday:

Clerk, Criminal District Court
Nick Varrecchio, Democrat, Ballot # 21

Mayor, City of New Orleans
“Mitch” Landrieu, Democrat, Ballot # 61

Councilmember(s) at Large
Arnie Fielkow, Democrat, Ballot # 73

Councilmember, District B
Stacy Head, Democrat, Ballot # 92

I don’t have much reason to vote for anyone, but I’ve got plenty reason to vote against the incumbents. I never voted for Nagin before. I’m certainly not going to start now. I’m voting against Nagin because he’s failed to do his job post-Katrina. Garbage doesn’t get picked up. Thousands of flooded cars remain here, there and everywhere. His neighborhood planning process has ground to a complete halt. And I’m voting against Pratt because the City Council’s neighborhood planning process is shaping up to be a big farce.

I can’t say with confidence that the people I’m voting for will do better if they win. But hope springs eternal.

Football in the Quad

I just saw something I’ve never seen in my seven years here at the University: students throwing a football around in the quad. It did my heart good. It almost seemed like, well, college.


The most radical proposal I heard at last weekend’s AIA conference: Tear down the stretch of I-10 that passes through the center of New Orleans and restore North Claiborne to its former grandeur, routing interstate traffic onto 610 instead. I’m all for it.