Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"We're gettin what they promised. They said we'd be last. And we are last."

At the most recent VA neighborhood meeting, I noted that the ongoing work on streets like S. Rocheblave, Palmyra, and Cleveland - the streets immediate above the VA Footprint - is being done explicitly in furtherance of the VAMC project.  Some seemed to take umbrage at that assertion, but I think it's relevant given the problems the street work has been causing for residents for months and the constant attempts to shift blame.

The title quote comes from Mr. Leon, a resident on S. Rocheblave, who has been facing tumult on his street, the lakeside boundary of the VA site, since the fall of 2010 - dust, digging, mud, vibration, sudden lack of access, etc.   He's been at almost every VA neighborhood meeting since they began early last fall to discuss the issue.  And, as he noted, it's still not over.

A look at a 2007 letter from the City of New Orleans to the VA Administration, incorporated as Attachment B in the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the City and VA, shows that the street work is very explicitly being conducted in furtherance of the VA project:

The text reveals that the VA, even if it is not conducting the street improvement work on the adjacent and feeder streets, was very much involved in the planning of what the reasonable improvements would consist of...

....which, one would think, would entail some planning to ensure that the work was conducted in a manner that reduced impact on the peripheral neighbors.

At any rate, the VA's construction contractor has at least made greater outreach efforts to address existing and potential damage to homes than the City of New Orleans has - or the City's contractors.

On a different note, the meeting also revealed that VA had consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office regarding Dixie Brewery to see how much of the building can be saved, the 1907 portion being the part VA wants to save.  A VA rep said that VA was seeking ways to stabilize some of the weaker external wall bays from the inside.

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