Save the Date

Save the Date

Hike the Lafitte Corridor will take place this year on April 16, 2011 beginning at 10:00 a.m. Since establishment, each year Friends of Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) holds a hike where they lead the community through the three-mile stretch that will soon be constructed into a greenway. The greenway will link neighborhoods including the French Quarter, Tremé, Mid-City, Faubourg St. John, City Park and Lakeview.

“Once you actually walk the length of the future greenway site, it makes it easier to see the potential such a project will have on our neighborhoods and community,” stated FOLC president Bart Everson. One of our goals is to make sure the neighbors and community in the areas closely affected are part of the building and planning process.”

Details on additional activities, partnerships and information regarding Hike the Lafitte Corridor 2011 will be announced soon. For more information, please visit the FOLC website at folc-nola.org.

Minor Relapse, Electoral Politics, and Music

Last night FOLC had its annual board election. I was excited but also a little nervous. We had a bigger slate of candidates than ever before, fifteen in all, for eight open seats. I wasn’t up for re-election myself; our terms are staggered and mine ends next year. But I was nervous because there was a real prospect for the four incumbents who were seeking re-election to be displaced. In governmental elections I have a severe anti-incumbent bias, but this is not government, and I find I have a great deal of loyalty to my fellow board members.

We had a great turnout, with over sixty FOLC members in attendance, casting their votes. In the end, the incumbents were all re-elected and we have four new board members who will hopefully provide us with a fresh infusion of energy. I’ve posted the results on the FOLC site.

I ended up having to speak at some length at the meeting, and in order to be heard by 60-odd people I had to raise my voice. Unfortunately my poor throat is still on the mend from whatever viral assault I’ve been fighting; I’ve been getting better daily but last night’s activities set me back a day at least.

Sometimes, there’s a silver lining. Some sore throats seem to skew my voice lower by almost a full octave. Here’s what I sound like today, singing the first part of “Philadelphia” by Magazine.

Philadelphia [Sore Throat] by Editor B

Celebrating Saturday, Morning and Night

Saturday morning I was out early conducting a short tour of the Lafitte Corridor. I was skeptical about how many people would be up for a hike at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but pleasantly surprised when a dozen people showed up, plus a half dozen more who joined us in progress.

Edgar & Vance

Hike

Lindsay & Helen

We walked from Sojourner Truth Community Center to Bayou St. John and back. Actually we had to turn back before we reached the bayou. I was worried I wouldn’t have folks back to Sojourner Truth in time for the main event, namely the Walk and Roll Louisiana Summit 2010. I was supposed to be on a panel at the summit titled “Building successes from the ground up: The legacy of walking and cycling advocacy in Louisiana.” But thankfully I was able to get one of my esteemed FOLC board members, namely Edgar Chase, to represent us.

See, I couldn’t stick around for Walk & Roll because I had a prior commitment. The second Saturday of the month is my book club. Don’t get me wrong, I think Walk & Roll was a fantastic event, and bike/ped issues are near and dear to my heart. But I’ve been going to this book club for almost ten years now. I’ve missed a few meetings here and there because of levee failures and the like, but as a rule I do my best to be there. Second Saturdays are sort of sacred to me.

Drawing boundaries like this is important to maintaining my sanity and my sense of balance. There are many needs in this community, and I try to do my part, but in order to stay happy and healthy I have to know where to draw the line, to say “sorry” and enjoy my personal pleasures as opposed to serving the elusive public good.

(As another example, I was recently asked to serve on some neighborhood committees. I was on the verge of saying yes when I remembered that in 2008 I essentially made a vow, to my wife and my daughter and myself, to limit my involvement to one organization only. I chose Friends of Lafitte Corridor and resigned from two other boards. It was a good decision, one I need to continue to honor, so instead of serving on one of those committees I made a counter-offer. I’m going to recruit someone else as a Greenway Liaison for Mid-City. I suspect there’s a FOLC member living in Mid-City who’d like to get more active with FOLC and/or MCNO. This might be the perfect opportunity for getting started. I’m hoping that this will be a way to expand the circle of neighborhood involvement for a net gain.)

So that’s what I did Saturday morning, and I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed talking about Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others with my fellow club members. Even so, I felt slightly guilty about not being at Walk & Roll to show my support, and about not being home to help with chores and looking after my daughter, especially after being gone most of last week.

But only slightly.

Actually, that may have added to my enjoyment. I felt like I was getting away with something.

I’m still planning to write more about the trip to St. Louis, by the way.

Saturday night, Xy and I dropped Persephone off with a sitter and celebrated — I wasn’t sure exactly what we were celebrating, but we had a good time which included dinner at Crescent Pie & Sausage. It wasn’t until Sunday that I realized it has been a year and a day since we closed on our new house. I wonder when we will stop calling it “new”?

Dampened

I was headed to a meeting of the Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee this morning. I was riding down Conti, just a block or two from our old house, and I crossed through what appeared to be a small puddle. Mind, it hasn’t rained here in a couple weeks, so this puddle was bubbling up from a broken water main or sewer line of some sort. Midway through the puddle I discovered it was much deeper than it looked. As I lost momentum I had to put my foot down to maintain balance, and found myself up to my ankle.

I rode on a few more blocks and considered going to the meeting with a water-logged shoe, but when I reached Broad I thought better of it. I went back home, changed shoes and pants. I could still have made the tail end of the meeting, but I went to work instead.

By my count, this morning’s meeting is the eighth greenway-related meeting I’ve attended in as many days — or it would have been. I try to delegate, but people seem to want me at everything personally.

My shoe may be wet. My enthusiasm remains undampened. But I don’t feel too bad about missing this morning’s meeting.

What Goes Around

It’s not just a sign — it’s a kinetic sculpture.

This was constructed by Peter Hickman and friends at the place where the Jeff Davis neutral ground intersects the Lafitte Corridor at the foot of Bayou St. John.

It is propelled by the wind. In my personal opinion, it’s a perfect expression of community desire for the greenway which we hope will be created here soon.

For more info about the Lafitte Corridor and the greenway see folc-nola.org

Be Revolutionary

There’s something I wanted to write at the first anniversary of Katrina, but I never did.

I thought about it again at the second anniversary, and the third and the fourth. I still wanted to write about it, but there was something in the way. Too much to do, and time slips away. Or maybe that’s just an excuse.

This year I’m going to write it. I missed the five year anniversary by one day, but I’m going to say it at last.

And it’s simply this:

Be revolutionary.

That’s it. That’s my wish for the people of New Orleans. Come to think of it, that’s also my wish for the people of this nation and this world. But somehow it seems especially apropos at this place, at this time. We’ve been having to rebuild and rethink everything, and five years on there is still much to do. So, as we continue to work at building it back better, we need to be bold. We need to be daring. We need courage and compassion and creativity.

For example, consider this new report from Waggonner & Ball Architects, commissioned by Friends of Lafitte Corridor with a grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Environmental Fund. It asks us to consider new approaches to managing storm water in the city.

To change the way we live with water here would be revolutionary. And it might even save lives. Of course, it’s not easy to turn around and do things differently. It’s difficult. It’s expensive. But it’s necessary. And in the long run, we will pay a much greater price if we keep doing things the same old way.

The proposals in this report are just an example. We need revolutionary thinking on all fronts.

Not all revolutions are good. Not all revolutions are just. I don’t endorse change for the sake of change. For a community that has lost so much, in fact, more change may be difficult to face. But that’s our challenge, to preserve the good while revolutionizing the bad.

And actually, I think a lot of New Orleanians are doing this already. But it seems that it’s never enough. We need to constantly be supporting one another to be stronger and go further.

Posting this here won’t do much to advance the cause. Words are not enough. We need to live the revolution through our actions. I try to do that every day.

Imagine New Orleans five years from now. If we have a city that is just and humane, if all our citizens are enjoying a good quality of life, if we are thriving and healthy and green — that would be a revolution. We know we’re not their yet. But isn’t that what most of us desire?

If we want it, we have to be revolutionaries.

Sunshine & Sausage

Selection Committee

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
— Otto von Bismarck

I had the chance to observe a bit of sausage-making yesterday. I attended the meeting of a committee charged with selecting a team to design a greenway for the Lafitte Corridor.

A little context may be in order. Some sixteen months ago, the previous mayoral administration selected Design Workshop, from a field of fourteen applicants, to begin design of a greenway in the Lafitte Corridor. We (meaning the board of Friends of Lafitte Corridor) were happy with the selection, but the process was a bit mysterious and vague, taking place behind closed doors. That June, a couple hundred people turned out to hike the Lafitte Corridor and meet the designers. Our spirits were high, and it seemed that real progress was imminent.

By contrast, our spirits were quite low when the administration terminated the contract with Design Workshop in January. It represented a major setback for the project. I hasten to add that the termination didn’t reflect in any way on Design Workshop but had to do with obscure technical matters relating to a conflict between the city’s policies and procedures versus the requirements of the federal government. The policies and procedures were tweaked accordingly. The administration re-issued the request for proposals, but before they could be evaluated, their term in office was up.

Then a new guy comes into office. First order of business: gotta revamp those policies and procedures again. Gotta make it more open and transparent. Well, OK, that sounds good, but could we please get on with it?

So here we are again, right back where we were sixteen months ago. And yet what a difference a new mayoral administration makes. Last time, this process was hidden from view behind closed doors. Citizen groups like Friends of Lafitte Corridor had to rely on rumor and gossip just to divine what was going on in our own government. This time, everything was different. This meeting represented the very first selection for procurement of services made under the new policies and procedures. I was able to attend the meeting and observe as the committee discussed their criteria, proposals were evaluated on a matrix, scores tallied up, and a selection made.

All I gotta say is, despite the immortal wisdom of Otto von Bismarck, that’s some pretty sweet sausage. Sunshine would appear to be the best spice.

Oh, the selected team? Design Workshop. Yes, again. They have been chosen as the best applicants twice now. Last time there were fourteen proposals. This time there were thirteen, but they were not all the same as before. So the process may be different, but the result was the same. I think it’s safe to say that Design Workshop is well-qualified for this work. The citizens of New Orleans can have confidence in this choice — and also in a process for spending public money that is open to public scrutiny. It’s a far cry from participatory budgeting, but it is a step in the right direction.

I’m certainly happy with the selection. It’s great news for this project. But it’s important to keep this in perspective. We’re finally back to where we were in April of 2009. The contract still has to be negotiated. Last time that process took half a year. Hopefully it will go more quickly this time, since it was already negotiated once before. After that, of course, the contract has to be signed by all relevant parties. That took a month last time. Then a notice to proceed has to be issued. Then and only then can the work begin — the design work, mind you. Not construction, not yet. It will still be a good while before we break ground. A good design phase is absolutely essential for a quality product, and the active participation of all relevant stakeholders is essential. And I think that is the message we need to keep front and center in the months ahead.

Hike Report 2010

Hikers

Saturday was the Sixth Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor, a great day for me — or it would have been, if it wasn’t sandwiched between the death of two pets and some other personal drama I don’t want to go into right now. As it was, my mind was just a bit clouded. The event turned out to be very cool, and I appreciated that, but I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

Forthwith, an assemblage of random notes and related media.

Here are my opening remarks before the hike.

Kickoff Speech by Editor B

How many people made the hike this year? Not sure exactly. 156 attendees registered in advance, 118 people signed in Saturday morning, and Lake counted 130 heads at one point. Approximately 80 people made it the full three miles to Canal Boulevard. Whatever the exact number, it was a bit less than last year, but that’s to be expected given the circumstances. Last year this project seemed on the verge of actually happening, and we’ve clearly taken a step back. But I still felt this was a very respectable showing and I was very happy with the turnout.

This was the first time we asked people to register in advance. I was hesitant to do anything that might seem to create a barrier to participation, but it sure does make planning easier. We used Eventbrite for this purpose. This was my second time using Eventbrite, and I remain impressed.

Here are some nifty graphics generated by the site.

Hike Registration Map from Eventbrite

Looks like we had people coming to hike from all over the country.

This chart shows that most people waited until a day or two before the event to register.

Hike Registration Chart from Eventbrite

Indeed, people were still signing up less than an hour before the hike began.

Registration was free, but people had an option to donate an amount of their choosing. We raised $175 through the registration process ($189 before fees) and we also collected $65 in donations at the actual hike. However, this was not conceived as a fundraiser.

We enjoyed the sponsorship of Massey’s Professional Outfitters once again, as well as Merrell, a shoe company out of Michigan. Rouse’s also chipped in to underwrite the cost of lunch.

The coolest surprise of the day, for me, was the musical entertainment which was provided my the Sunshine Steelers, an instrumental due consisting of acoustic guitar and steel drums. Very mellow and laid back, the prefect accompaniment to lunch.
Continue reading “Hike Report 2010”

The Greenway Shuffle

Now might be a good time to register for the Lafitte Corridor hike on May 8.

2009Walk-YellowBldgCrowdphoto by Charles London

Here’s a new song I’ve been singing lately.

Two step forwards, one step back
Doing the greenway shuffle

Last year we took two steps forward. This year we’re taking a step back. I have to keep reminding myself: We are still making progress.

Over the past several years I’ve organized an annual hike of the Lafitte Corridor. It’s been a way of rallying the community in support of the greenway project. (If you’re not familiar, the project aims to transform this vacant space into a new public amenity. You can find more information on the website of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.) It’s been a way of keeping people engaged, keeping their spirits and enthusiasm up, while we grind slowly toward the goal.

This year, the situation is reversed. I’m the one who needs my spirits rallied. I’m the one who needs to see that the community desire for this project is as strong as ever. Because frankly I have been discouraged.

We’ve been slogging away at this project for years now. Last year it seemed we were finally making headway. The city had issued a request for proposals, and selected a team led by Design Workshop to do the work. Contract negotiations were still underway when we had our hike, but a number of people from Design Workshop came and hiked with us, and one of the principals addressed the group at the end of the hike. Spirits were high, and it seemed likely that we might even see a groundbreaking ceremony by the time of the next hike.

Contract negotiations between Design Workshop and the city continued over the summer. Wow, did that a long time. Then, once the details had been hammered out to everyone’s satisfaction, the contract entered a phase of being routed around City Hall being signed by various officials. That seemed to take forever as well. Finally in November the mayor signed the contract and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But I exhaled too soon. Turns out there’s something called a “notice to proceed” that has to be issued before work actually begins. We kept waiting for that, but it never happened.

Then we got word that HUD was raising questions about the policies the city had in place for awarding contracts. See, this work was to be funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, aka CDBG, so the feds have a say. The city administration revised its policy. But they also decided to preemptively re-bid the three projects funded by CDBG.

To this end, they terminated the contract with Design Workshop.

I looked on in horror throughout this process. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Well, that’s how it seemed to me, because I really wanted to see this project move forward. Perhaps the city did the right thing. Perhaps I don’t know all the details. I wish the city had asked HUD to review the procurement procedures that were followed for this particular project. The Friends of Lafitte Corridor had been monitoring the whole process from afar; we thought the deal with Design Workshop was clean and solid; we were fairly confident that HUD would have given it a clean bill of health. But who knows? That’s all water under the bridge now I suppose.

The city issued a new request for proposals. The deadline was this past Monday. Now the city is evaluating proposals, and unfortunately we don’t have much confidence in the process this time around. For one thing, the administration seems to want to get a contract done before their term is up, which is in three weeks — despite the fact that it took them six months to negotiate last time. And there are other cause for concern. That’s why I sent off a letter to the Office of the Inspector General yesterday.

(Please note: Though I signed my name to it, I did not actually pour out the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing that letter. It’s an exhaustively researched document; I couldn’t have done it if I tried. It was a collaborative effort, with a couple key members of the FOLC Board doing the heavy lifting.)

I’m really discouraged that it’s come to this.

And that’s why it’s important to me to see a good showing at this year’s hike. That’s why I need your help. Last year we had 200 people show up. This year we’ll be hiking just days after a new administration has taken office. We need to show the new mayor that the community still desires this project.

But I’m just about running out of steam, folks. My enthusiasm is at a low ebb. I need your help to promote this event.

Sure, we can and should use social media to push this thing forward, but that’s somewhat limiting. Digital campaigns tend to reproduce the same social divides that keep us apart us in real life. We need to reach beyond the internet and let people who aren’t wired into our social networks know about this thing. We need to let them know that we’re only just getting started — that nothing has been decided yet — that there is still time to get involved “on the ground floor” so to speak and have a voice in how this thing is designed.

We are partnering with Massey’s Professional Outfitters again this year. Rouse’s will be providing lunch. Through our friends at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy we’ve connected with Merrell and they’ve signed on as a sponsor too. Their creative department is working on a flyer which I hope may be available soon.

There will be food, and music, and in general it should be a fun event. So please register and join us May 8, and help me spread the word.

Walk & Talk

Audio slideshow from Urban Pathways to Livable Communities conference in New Orleans, February 25-26, 2010.

A walk of the Lafitte Corridor hosted by Bart Everson of Friends of Lafitte Corridor and Daniel Samuels of the Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee.

Spontaneous Public Sculpture

Lafitte Corridor

This sculpture mysteriously appeared on the Lafitte Corridor last week, just in time for the Urban Pathways conference tour. I was surprised and touched. It’s worth nothing that Friends of Lafitte Corridor did not solicit or commission this sculpture, though in retrospect I’m pretty sure I know who made it. It is, quite simply, yet another indication of the community’s desire for the greenway project to move forward.

Revitalization

[Photos by Joseph Brock]

Hamstrung

If I haven’t written here as much lately, perhaps it’s because I feel constrained from public discussion of many of the topics which are currently preoccupying me.

  • There’s an election coming up, and I’ve got opinions, but I’m afraid to express them. Whoever wins, FOLC will have to work with them. It won’t help FOLC’s cause if the president (me) makes public pronouncements on one side or the other. Whoever gets elected can wield considerable influence for (or against) the greenway project. Therefore it seems most wise to keep my mouth shut.
  • Speaking of the greenway, we’ve been having some frustrations there as well. It’s related to the mess outlined by the American Zombie. FOLC has sent a letter to the administration and continues to try to get a meeting. There’s plenty more to say, but discretion seems advisable at this juncture.
  • On a more personal level, there’s been some unfortunate infighting amongst my co-workers. Not in my unit, happily, but close enough to impinge on me. It’s actually been fascinating, in a sad way, to see all this unfold, but I’ll be damned if I write about it. That could only serve to embarrass those persons involved, and possibly my employer. I resolved long ago not to embarrass my employer in my writings here. That’s in fact why I never mention my employer by name, and just refer to “the University.” I like my job too much to play it any other way.
  • By the same token, I’m not going to write about Xy’s discontent with her work environment, except to say it’s bad. Real bad. Leaving the interpersonal differences and administrative challenges aside, she’s sick of the hours. So am I. She’s tired of working a ten hour day and then having a couple hours of homework per night. She feels she’s missing out on her daughter growing up. So she may well be looking for another line of work come fall.

If no one read this blog, I could sound off on any topic with impunity. If I had a huge readership, I could perhaps wield some influence through my writings. As it stands, I’m in that broad middle zone where I get just enough attention to constrain but not enough to liberate.

And of course what’s going on in Haiti right now makes all this seem rather trivial, but I don’t have anything insightful to add about that either.

So I just don’t have anything to say right now. Sorry.

FOLC on WWOZ

WWOZ will be airing a “Street Talk” segment on the Lafitte Corridor greenway project today (Tues 1/12/10) at 2pm sharp. Listen on 90.7 FM in New Orleans or on the web at wwoz.org or just use the handy player on the FOLC website.

Buying It Back

There’s an article in today’s paper on a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m even quoted herein. My comments follow.

Greenway Ahead

by Lolis Eric Elie, The Times-Picayune
Saturday September 05, 2009, 10:42 PM

In a move that could help create the first new public park in New Orleans in two decades, the Trust for Public Land has obtained rights to buy the site of the ill-fated Louisiana Institute of Film Technology.


Rusty Costanza / The Times-PicayuneHikers walk through an overgrown area of the Lafitte Corridor in 2008 during an annual outing.

The city needed the trust’s help with the Lafitte Greenway parcel because federal money the city is relying on to buy the property won’t be available for several months.

“The city’s Office of Recovery Management called the Trust for Public Land and asked us to help them with the acquisition of this property. That’s exactly what we do, ” said Larry Schmidt, director of the trust’s New Orleans office.

“We help cities, states, the National Park Service and agencies like that acquire property. We do the appraisals, the survey work and we acquire the title and hold it while the city’s funding is being assembled, ” he said.

The 18-acre strip, now held by a mortgage company, is part of a mostly city-owned three-mile tract that follows along an unused railway bed beginning near Basin Street Station, continuing along Lafitte Street across North Carrollton Avenue and ending near Canal Boulevard.

The area includes the Sojourner Truth Community Center, a gas station at Lafitte and Broad streets where public employees fill their cars, and the old brake tag station at Lafitte and Jefferson Davis Parkway.

“All these facilities will be repurposed to serve the greenway corridor, ” said Dubravka Gilic, director of strategic planning for the city recovery office.

Daniel Samuels, an architect, is a founding member of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, a three-year-old community group that has been the most visible advocate for creation of the corridor. He said the idea of turning this area into public space is not new.

“City planning documents have recognized the potential of that corridor going all the way back to the 1976 Claiborne Avenue Design Team Study done by Cliff James and Rudy Lombard, to successive phases of the New Orleans New Century Master Plan, which was started in the 1990s, ” Samuels said.

The old LIFT site, one block wide, is the widest part of the three-mile stretch. The rail bed corridor becomes extremely narrow as it runs alongside such privately owned buildings as the Rouses Supermarket and Bohn Ford buildings on Carrollton.

The purchase by the Trust for Public Land will ensure that a city deal could be sealed quickly and that the land would be dedicated to public purposes. The trust expects to sell the land back to the city by the end of the year.


Eliot Kamenitz / The Times-PicayuneLarry Schmidt, director of the New Orleans Office of the Trust for Public Land stands on some of the 18 acres at Lafitte and North Galvez streets that will form the first leg of the parkway.

The city has dedicated $11.6 million of its federal Community Development Block Grant money to the greenway project, Gilic said. Of that total, $4 million is reserved for purchasing the former LIFT site and the remainder will be devoted to designing and building the corridor, she said.

Friends of Lafitte Corridor hopes that the entire space will be developed, not just the plot where the film institute was supposed to be.

“The main thing that I have always kept in mind with this project is that it needs to be a safe, contiguous path, a trail, ” said Bart Everson, president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor. “But if it can have park-like amenities along it then that is value added.”

The Design Workshop, a firm in Austin, Texas, will spearhead the design effort, working with local partners that include Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, an architecture firm, and Bright Moments, a public relations firm.

Before the area was a railway bed it was the Carondelet Canal, linking Lake Pontchartrain to the French Quarter via Bayou St. John.

“We have encouraged our designers to coordinate with the Sewerage & Water Board to make all the efforts to re-introduce the water back into this space, ” Gilic said. “That will definitely be one of the elements of this project.”

Gilic said the designers will conduct five rounds of workshops designed to gain public input into the development.

The property the trust will buy consists of two adjacent parcels that LIFT bought in 2006. Slightly more than half was owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad, while the rest was owned by the city.

LIFT abruptly collapsed two years ago when federal investigators started looking into its dealings. In April, LIFT director Malcolm Petal was sentenced to five years in federal prison for conspiring to bribe a former state official, Mark Smith, in exchange for Louisiana film-industry tax credits. Last month, Smith was sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

. . . . . . .

Lolis Eric Elie can be reached at [email protected] or 504.826.3330.

Thanks Lolis. OK, it’s me again. Just several points I’d like to add.

  1. This land transaction takes FOLC full circle. We were initially galvanized by news the city was selling this land to LIFT, back in February 2006.
  2. I’m not sure why there’s the emphasis on “park.” I don’t know if TPL has strings attached to this deal where the city has to make it a park. I’m not sure quite what to think of that. I’m in favor (obviously) of a greenway, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as a park, though a park would certainly be compatible. But I know of at least one organization that wants to build a school there, which I think is an intriguing possibility. Most of all, I’d like the greenway to be recognized in the public mind as a source of economic revitalization, not just green space.
  3. And why did TPL have to get involved? Was it because of cashflow issues, as the article suggests? The ordinance by which the city authorized the sale of this land stipulated that the city would have the first right of refusal to buy this land back if the film studio should fall through. But I believe this land was sold at LIFT’s bankruptcy auction, to the highest bidder. What happened to the city’s first right of refusal?

    And therein lies the story behind this story, which to my knowledge no journalist has taken up. Back in May 2006, the City Council passed an amendment (Ordinance #22,241) to the original act of sale (Ordinance #22,197). There’s a lot of obfuscatory legalese in these documents, but when sifted it seems that the only purpose of this amendment was to waive the city’s right of refusal for most of the city-owned acres, all but the so-called “paper streets.” The language is crafted in such a way that I’ll wager most of the council didn’t understand the city was giving up anything. The only conceivable purpose of this little legislative sleight-of-hand would be, presumably, to help LIFT with their financing. LIFT of course has since been implicated in other matters of influence-peddling. So was this another dirty deal? I sure wish a journalist would look into this.

    Oh, the sponsor of that amendment? A certain councilman, voted out in 2006 but looking to make a comeback in 2010. So it would be nice to know if my understanding is accurate or if I’m way out in left field.

  4. Oh, and the city has now allocated $11.6 million for the greenway? Hot dog. The things I learn reading the paper!

P.S.: I just noticed the graphic is wrong. And since it’s attributed to Friends of Lafitte Corridor, I’m inclined to correct it. The parcel being purchased by the city is wider than what’s shown. It actually extends the full width from Lafitte Street to St. Louis. The tract become considerably wider as it approaches Claiborne.