31 July 2006

Katrina-It Could Happen to You Too

Do you think anyone in the northeast has ever considered that they are as vulnerable as we are? Pass this along to anyone you know from out of state and have them pass it along to their congressman.

On another note............here's the first real storm to watch this year. Chris became a Tropical Storm last night and should be a hurricane by the weekend. As you can see from the map, it could go anywhere.

New Orleans and Post-KTMB Planning/The Unified New Orleans Plan

Spurred from this CNN Anderson Cooper thing I saw a couple of weeks ago about "New Orleans not having a plan" but "Mississippi having a plan" I wanted to try and come up with a synopsis of what planning exercises have been conducted in New Orleans in the past eleven months. The post-KTMB comparison of New Orleans/Louisiana and Mississippi really gets me angry as to compare the two situations are apples to oranges. The type of devastation is completely different. The scale of the devastation is completely different. The socio-economic diversity of the affected citizenry is completely different. And on and on. Mississippi has a mostly clean slate--New Orleans has 100,000+ once-flooded structures still intact that in many cases can and should be rehabilitated. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast a 30 foot tidal wave caused the destruction of the coastal areas while in the majority of the City of New Orleans the devastation of our city took a different form: a slow inundation of seawater because of failed MANMADE flood control structures. A natural disaster versus an admittedly man-induced one. It is a different situation in every way . . . .

Post-KTMB New Orleans Planning Efforts:

First there was the Urban Land Institute-sponsored Bring Back New Orleans Plan in Fall 2005 touted by OUR MAYOR (tm). There were lots of public presentations and hearings and lots of citizen anger vented--mainly spurred by these big green blobs labeled "greenspaces" placed upon city maps upon especially low-lying neighborhoods of the city such as Broadmoor and New Orleans East--indicating an abandonment of these areas (i.e. "reducing the urban footprint") for urban development. All sorts of deadlines and timetables were established for Spring 2006 to get that plan going with first-hand involvement of advocacy and neighborhood groups, but none of this came to fruition and the ULI BNOB Plan became yet another study to gather dust on a bookshelf. Then in early-Summer 2006 the City Council introduced the New Orleans Neighborhood Rebuilding Plan . . . .

Stop the presses. I don't need to write about this anymore as Becky Houtman has put together a complete summary. Find a better synopsis. It doesn't exist.

OUR MAYOR (tm) Bring Back New Orleans Plan ---->
CITY COUNCIL New Orleans Neighborhood Rebuilding Plan ---->

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend yesterday's Unified New Orleans Plan "event" at the City Park Botanic Garden due to something previously scheduled. Check out Schroeder's, Adrasto's, and Michael Homan's takes. Oh boy. And I've heard similar reports of it from others as well. Here's the Times-Picayune's more "approved for your consumption" take on the event.

UPDATE, 2pm: Humid Haney's perspective and the story as reported last night on WWL TV.


28 July 2006

Mid City Rock N Bowl: What Does the Future Hold?

On my daily drive-by through Mid City from our temporary home in Belle Chasse to check on the hacks rebuilding my house, I couldn't help but notice this sign. I didn't see it there yesterday morning or around lunch time, so I can only assume this went up some time yesterday after 1pm.

I don't know the details of this property, but I do know that
Rock n' Bowl does not own their building - they are renters. This place is obviously a hot piece of Real Estate, as the sign says : Offers due by: August 31, 2006.

Question #1:
What does this mean for Rock n' Bowl, is their space part of what is for sale? Can anyone confirm this?

Question #2:
How can Mid City assure that whatever happens to this corner, that Rock n' Bowl is somehow preserved, included, or at least given dibs on keeping their lease?

Has anyone talked to the owner? I know now at least someone that will at least try to this weekend. I can't wait to hear what he has to say.

John is a great guy. He took it upon himself to clean the parking lot, get the electricty back on, and get the place ready when the current landlord/other tenants hadn't even gutted the stores downstairs. This didn't stop Rock n' Bowl from opening, even with the foul smell of rotting food in the former Union Supermarket, upstairs was rockin with some allstars that first weeknight they opened in November.

Someone print out some 'SAVE ROCK n' BOWL' bumper stickers pronto.

I hope this is a false alarm...

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Carrollton Avenue, Tulane Avenue, Mid City Rock N Bowl

27 July 2006

Photo du Jour: Flat Tire du Jour

Woke up this morning . . . to a flat tire. (Didn't get myself a gun.) For me this is the fifth flat I've experienced post-KTMB--in three different cars. This time it appears I drove over a wood screw. One of the tire places on Veterans Boulevard is patching it up as I write this. I mention them because when I walked into their place this morning I was amazed at how nice it now is--I hadn't been in this particular place since the storm. The jacuzzi effect spawn from KTMB gave their showroom/waiting room a much needed facelift. They told me it wasn't so much the canal overflow flooding that damaged their building (they did take in some floodwater), instead the interior got ruined from rainwater because of a blown-off roof. They even have a flatscreen television . . .

Hollis P. Wood tells me that he and nolagirl collectively have had ten flats causes by nails/debris in the past eleven months. Virtually everyone I know in New Orleans post-KTMB has had this happen at least once and serves as another inconvenient reality for "us people in our part of the world."

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Metairie

Maps du Jour: New Orleans Relief Maps

One word: Topography. These images are LIDAR-derived models of New Orleans. The darker the green shade, the lower the elevation and the lighter the green shade, the higher the elevation. The various ridges within New Orleans are quite evident in these models--denoted with the lighter shades. Most obvious is the Mississippi River Ridge, but also as noticeable are the Metairie, Esplanade, Bayou St. John, and Gentilly Ridges. Additionally, the WPA-era "filled" Lakeshore area acts as another ridge--although an aritificially created one. The ridge hemmed "bowl" areas of Broadmoor, Lakeview, Gentilly, and Old Metairie (Hoey's Basin) stand out illustrated with the darker thematic.

CBD/Vieux Carre/Faubourg Marigny/7th Ward/Mid City. The Lafitte Corridor (Carondelet/Old Basin Canal) is slightly raised and is evident in the model. In the Sauve Crevasse Flood in 1849 the "spoil" area from the canal stopped the inundation from going any further east. In that flood event all lands between the Metairie Ridge and the Mississippi River Ridge from current-day River Ridge (i.e. Sauve Road) to the Carondelet Canal suffered severe flooding with current-day Broadmoor recieving four to six feet--which sounds quite familiar.

Lakeview/City Park/Gentilly. The east-west railroad grade and the levee-bases of the lateral canal floodwalls stand out in this image. Also, notice the underpasses under the railroad grade at I-10, Canal Boulevard, Orleans/Marconi Drive, St. Bernard Avenue, and Gentilly Boulevard. These underpasses, despite what some have erroneously said, are the only non-drainage locations (canals and lakes) in New Orleans with elevations below ten feet below sea level.

Carrollton/Fountainbleau/Uptown/Broadmoor. The spoke pattern of streets is pronounced in this image. Because the French arpent system originally divided the land along the River, the "vertical" streets were based on these property lines and run (or attempt to run) perpindicular to the Mississippi River creating the spoke pattern of streets. This pattern is evident in the above image from the Vieux Carre through Uptown to Carrollton and the Jefferson Parish line. The "bowl" area of Broadmoor is the pivot point where the geometry of this pattern of streets all culminate resulting in some unusually patterned city blocks.

New Orleans East. The industrial portions along the Gentilly Ridge are fairly high in elevation, but the bulk of the developed areas of New Orleans East have extremely low elevations with I-10 being located in the core of the lowest areas. Notice how the land upslopes along the Lake and Haine Boulevard, but only provides two blocks of development elevation above sea level.

Metairie/Old Metairie. The Riverside area of Metairie Road (Hoey's Basin) is the portion of Metairie which became inundated because of the City of New Orleans floodwall failures. Notice that the darker shades (lower elevations) in Metairie/East Jefferson are not located within Hoey's Basin, but are instead everything north of the Metairie Ridge. Metairie Ridge held the water back from completely overtaking the majority of East Jefferson. The remnants of a once-tributary of the now-filled Metairie Bayou (Metairie Ridge) can be seen running northwest as a slight ridge in the general vicinity of Bonabel Boulevard.

Which has a higher elevation? Monkey Hill at Audubon Zoo or the Civil Defense Shelter at West End? Bonus points for a guess on the elevations . . .

New Orleans Katrina Lakeview Broadmoor Gentilly

26 July 2006

Saintsdoggle: Latest New Orleans Saints/Louisiana Superdome Developments

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in New Orleans yesterday checking out the progress on the Louisiana Superdome renovation. CG's most recent post at Saintsdoggle discusses the visit and also mentions some other recent developments. Hold the phones--has a corporate sponsor for the DOME finally been found????

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints New Orleans Saints NFL

25 July 2006

Orleans Parish Levee Board--At It Again

The Orleans Parish Levee board is once again spending valuable time and money on casinos.

Don't they have better things to do? Haven't they learned anything?

Here's a serious question.....What benefit does the city get from a Lakefront casino? Has New Orleans really lost anything with the departure of Bally's for Amelia in St. Mary Parish? I have no real problem with a casino on the Lakefront, just a problem with wasting valuable time and money during a crucial time in our recovery. Just hope the national media ignores this.

Please, for Pistol Pete's sake, vote to consolidate levee boards on September 30th. It will be on the ballot Statewide.

My angry rant.


24 July 2006

Good News, New Orleans: Liuzza's Open--and Serving Food

On the August Saturday night before the now-admitted MANMADE failure of the flood protection system and subsequent drowning of New Orleans, the Fair Family ate dinner at Liuzza's, one of the most beloved neighborhood joints in the city. (We jokingly referred to that meal at the time as "our last New Orleans meal" (Ya, funny, right?)--The restaurant was about half-full and there was a noticeable tension that night (cue the Phil Collins "Something in the Air Tonight") and I don't know--maybe you could call it an impending sense of doom. After the usual dinner and several fish bowls we made a ceremonial "last drive" around town taking the long way from Mid City back to Carrollton via Canal Street, the CBD, and St. Charles Avenue. At 5am on Sunday morning we headed out of New Orleans via Oak Street and River Road. Two days later our city became a lake and the interior of Liuzza's was engulfed in over five feet of water.

Ten months since being flooded, the Bienville Street institution fully-reopened two weeks ago after having been open in a limited, bar-only fashion since May. The menu is quite limited compared to normal times pre-KTMB. The day I was there I only recognized one of the floor staff. But the important thing is they're back . . . and in my opinion Liuzza's is one of those places New Orleans simply cannot afford to ever lose. Their reopening is truly good news.

More good-to-hear news: Another legendary Mid City establishment looks to be on their way to returning as well as an "opening soon" sign has appeared on its sidewalk in the past couple of weeks or so. Pass the Cannoli, the place: Angelo Brocato's.

Here are some pics I took at Liuzza's:

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Liuzza's, Angelo Brocato's

My Take on Reggie Bush's "Holdout" Story

Now that I have posted the link to the Reggie Bush story, viewed a wide assortment of Internet comments, and digested the situation myself, here's my take:

I don't doubt the integrity and credentials of the reporter. And I don't have doubts just because Yahoo! scooped everyone. Yahoo scooped everyone on the Reggie Bush house story too. I am not one of those people who doesn't believe it just because ESPN isn't reporting it. ESPN was too busy following Danica Patrick and Roger Clemens around to cover other stories of actual significance. ESPN is spending too much time ranking NFL units and predicting wild-card games right now to catch "news." ESPN blows.

I don't doubt that Reggie's people leaked this story. I don't think he has been handled well either. It all sounds pretty amateur. But it makes sense in one context that the reporter mentioned. He has done everything possible to make the city and Saints fans love him. So now he can play hardball. He knows we're on his side. If he holds out, he know's we're gonna blame Benson. And Benson's "do whatever it takes" stance during the draft doesn't help things either.

This is Ricky Williams in reverse. Remember when Ricky went public with his "you should be paid based on what you do on the field" stance. That put him behind the eight-ball in negotiations, and he wound up getting a crappy contract. Now it's the team that knows it's screwed.

Reggie is going to name his price when it's all said and done.

And I don't believe for a minute that he will hold out the entire season. I'm just sick of the crap. We got put through Hell last year with Tom Benson's idiocy. We don't need a Reggie Bush holdout looming over our heads. Can't we have a happy, peaceful pre-season?

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints

23 July 2006

Latest on Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush considering holding out the entire season.

Oh please, dear God....

Geaux Hornets.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints

22 July 2006

Analyzing the NEW ORLEANS/oklahoma city* Hornets' Off-Season

As previously mentioned, the NEW ORLEANS/oklahoma city* Hornets have been very busy in the off-season. The team was nearly a playoff team last year, but it fell apart after the Chris Andersen incident. I feel confident that the moves make the team better, and probably a playoff team. Here's what happened:


PEJA STOJAKOVIC (FREE AGENT): The Hornets needed another reliable scoring threat to help Chris Paul. Most experts have concentrated on how he may be a free agent "bust" because his productivity has been declining. But if he hit 3s and get about 18 a night, he'll be just fine for the Hornets.

TYSON CHANDLER (TRADE WITH BULLS): This guy will be the Hornets' starting center for the next few years. He's got the size and is a good rebounder and shot blocker, but he doesn't score much. He's also got a huge contract that is not favorable. The addition of Stojakovic should make up for his lack of offensive skills.

BOBBY JACKSON (FREE AGENT): I liked this guy when he was with the Kings. He's a good backup to Chris Paul. He can give the team a backcourt scoring threat off the bench. The only negative I can find about him is that he has had recent injury problems.

HILTON ARMSTRONG AND CEDRIC SIMMONS (1st ROUND OF DRAFT): The Hornets needed to fix its frontcourt. Neither of these guys are probably big-time scoring options. But they were picked up for defense and shot-blocking. Armstrong is taller, but Simmons probably has more potential. Knowing how the draft is a crap-shoot, I'd settle for one of these guys being pretty good in the future. Historical odds are that one of the two will be okay, and the other will not.

MARCUS VINCIUS (2nd ROUND OF DRAFT): This Brazilian player sounds more like a Roman Emperor than a basketball player. He's a scorer who can play forward or guard, but he doesn't have much of a chance to contribute this year, if he even makes the team.


P.J. BROWN (TRADE WITH BULLS): I don't like losing him because he is a class act and local product (LA Tech). But he's at the very end of his career, and the Hornets may have been able to get their center of the future by trading him. I hope the team can find someone to assume his leadership role on the team.

J.R. SMITH (TRADE WITH BULLS): This guy has tons of talent, but he doesn't sound like he's a team player. It's a shame that we've already had to give up on him, because he could become an explosive scorer. But the Bulls have already traded him again (to the Denver Nuggets), and it will be hard for him to contribute over there too.

SPEEDY CLAXTON (FREE AGENT--ATLANTA): It would have been nice to keep him. But you can't blame him for leaving. He will get a chance to start in Atlanta. Over here, he was Chris Paul's backup at best. And Bobby Jackson will take his spot on the team.

KIRK SNYDER (TRADED TO HOUSTON): He didn't do much after the team acquired him last year. It's not much of a loss.

ARVYDAS MACIJAUSKAS (RELEASED): He was last year's "big free agent acquisition." He was supposed to be the next great European sharp-shooter and instant starter at shooting guard, but he never fit in.

MOOCHIE NORRIS (RELEASED): Not much of a player. Not much of a loss. The team can find a better and younger player.



Wow. It's a hell of a lot different from when the team was last in New Orleans full-time. Only David West is still there from the post-Baron Davis flameout. This team has gotten better in a hurry, and it proves that you don't need to be bad for 5 years before you can compete again. Now this team is hardly a title contender. It's too young, and the team needs more offensive options. But this is going to be a fun team to watch, even if it's mostly on television from Oklahoma City for one last year. This should be one hell of a team when (if) they return to New Orleans full time in 2007.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Hornets New Orleans Hornets Oklahoma City

21 July 2006

South Carrollton/South Claiborne Walgreen's Redevelopment: Issue Deferred Until 3 August. A Design Compromise on the Horizon?

Shelley Midura staffer Alex Morgan sent this update email last night concerning yesterday's City Council meeting in which the Walgreen's Redevelopment project was on the agenda:

Dear District A resident,

I just wanted to get you up to date on two of many issues that our office has been working on that were to be addressed at today’s city council meeting. One was and the other was not due to a last minute cancellation by the city attorney.

Claiborne & Carrollton --

The first was today’s deferment for two weeks of the decision on the Claiborne & Carrollton issue. As you are likely aware we have been working with all the parties involved on this for weeks to reach consensus so the project could move forward with unanimous support. It was in the early part of the weeks of negotiations that our office achieved compromise with the neighborhood associations, the leaseholder of the property and grocery store developer. It was only recently that we achieved a breakthrough in regards to Walgreen’s position that they could not adhere to our zoning laws and build to the corner in accordance with the Carrollton overlay.

Since this was the obstacle that had been preventing the project from being unanimously supported by all parties involved in addition to the surrounding neighborhoods it allowed the Councilmember to defer this issue today until the August 3rd City Council meeting to now allow Walgreen’s to approach this project in manner that can only be described as a “win-win” for everyone involved.

We must express how thankful we are to Walgreen’s for working through this with our community and responding to its needs. We are also very grateful to Robert’s Fresh Market and the Neighborhood Associations for their patience and being so involved and committed to seeing this through.

It’s not over yet but we believe we are finally close to an outcome that everyone can be proud of.

Bruce "cutesy-poo" Eggler's coverage of the story from the Times-Picayune can be read here.

A special thanks to Shelley Midura and Alex Morgan and the City Council for this deferment and for fostering the behind the scenes negotiations and discussions which can hopefully lead to a design solution all involved parties are content with. Everyone can come out of this smelling like a rose, especially Walgreen's . . . the value of working with the community, caring about the community's concerns, etc. are a PR goldmine for a corporation that quite frankly hasn't come across the best over it's tenure in the New Orleans market. Let's make this thing happen . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

Hubig's Pies Online

The other day on my way to work I was flipping around the radio dial and stopped on WTIX 690 AM (I refuse to call the station by it's new call letters). On the morning show was Idea Village President Tim Williamson. This non-profit organization is doling out seed monies to aid in small businesses' post-KTMB recovery. He mentioned that Hubig's Pie Company was an example of a local small business that used the available money to establish an e-commerce site. It is now possible to purchase Hubig's Pies online . . .

Check out this gem on the site: how about a Savory Simon tattoo?

Speaking of New Orleans radio . . . WRNO is still on the air as The Rock of New Orleans despite the announced June change of format to "conservative talk" by the grim reaper. Is 1 August going to be the day the music dies?

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Hubig's Pie, Clear Channel Communication, WRNO

Saints and Hornets: Recent Developments

I'm just getting back from vacation, and I'm just now digesting the latest information with the two teams. The first development comes to us from Saintsdoggle. Our fellow blogger expresses some concern over the recent T-P story about NFL aid to the Superdome. His concern is over a paragraph "buried" in the story which states that the Saints' penalty to break the Superdome lease has been reduced by $20 million.

Is this cause for concern? My knee-jerk answer is "no," with some caution and reservations. I mean, you know that there were going to be strings attached to any NFL assistance. That's the way the world and big business works. I'm still not convinced that the NFL wants to move to Los Angeles immediately. Saints fans have stepped up to the plate and bought the tickets. The new "braintrust" (led by Rita Benson LeBlanc) have responded to the NFL's requests to "regionalize" the team. I really don't think they would do all of that and then pack up one year later. I know that the Reggie Bush/Los Angeles connection has some people on edge right now; I wrote about the "conspiracy theory" shortly after the draft. But let's just wait and see what happens. I really believe that we have 2 or 3 years to prove ourselves before the NFL deems the city a lost cause. Right now we need somebody within the city and region to step up and get the business support needed to create an infrastructure worthy of a professional football team. That's what's going to determine whether the Saints stay. Ask the Democratic National Committee (allegedly). And that's something that's beyond the control of die-hard Saints fans like us.

I was right about fans swallowing their pride and forgiving Benson. I hope I'm right about this one.

Now for the NEW ORLEANS/oklahoma city* Hornets. There are positive developments on this front. For those of you who don't follow closely, two seemingly unrelated developments bode well for the future of this team. First, the "parasites" in Oklahoma City have now apparently set their sights on the Seattle Sonics (no matter what the new owners say). Second, local minority ownership has apparently been identified, and negotiations are underway. So there may be hope to keep the Hornets here after all.

But you'll forgive me if I'm a little more pessimistic on this one. I'm still holding the opinion that the city will have trouble supporting both teams in the post-KTMB economy. It's a business thing--not a fan thing. And even if the Sonics move to Oklahoma instead of the Hornets, there are still plenty of cities that could make a run for the team. I live in Missouri right now, and I can tell you that Kansas City wants a team--basketball, hockey or anything. The city has a brand new arena and no tenant beyond its Arena Football team. Louisville has made NBA runs in the past, and could do so again in the future. And I'm sure there are others too. But all in all, keeping the Hornets would be a decent consolation prize if the Saints left. Keeping both would be ideal.

I will get to comments and opinions about on-the-field activity soon. It's almost time for Saints training camp updates. And the Hornets are the busiest team in basketball right now. More to come...

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints New Orleans Saints New Orleans Hornets .

19 July 2006

Map du Jour: 1828 New Orleans and the Carondelet Canal

New Orleans, 1828. Faubourg Marigny, the Vieux Carre, Faubourg St. Mary, Treme, and the Lower Garden District . . . they're all there--hugging the high ground along La Fleuve. The Carondelet Canal can be seen running diagonally from the backside of the Vieux Carre (at the current-day Louis Armstrong Park) to Bayou St. John (near the current-day city vehicle inspection station near the end of Jefferson Davis Parkway) . The Carondelet Canal (later renamed the Old Basin Canal) enhanced the natural "back door" of New Orleans to Bayou St. John and Lake Pontchartrain and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico for over 130 years. In the 1930's once the maritime value of the canal was diminished, the canal was filled and the swath of land was converted to another transportation use: a railroad line. Industrial land uses and warehouses followed on adjacent properties to the corridor mid-century, but in the last twenty years those uses have waned as freight distribution shifted to trucking and away from trains. Today, the Lafitte Corridor, as it is now referred, presents a fantastic opportunity to convert a now largely abandoned right-of-way of land into a "rail-to-trail."

The routing of the corridor transverses the heart of New Orleans through Treme, Mid City, and Faubourg St. John and additionally connects with the existing greenspace along the banks of Bayou St. John. The to-be-developed Wisner Bike Path connection to Bayou St. John will potentially allow a continuous green path from Louis Armstrong Park to the WPA-"rebuilding"-era City Park to the WPA-"rebuilding" era parkspace along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain/Lakeshore Drive. The Laffite Corridor "rail-to-trail" project is a no-brainer--it will be a re-development and economic catalyst--and can be a lasting symbol of the rebuilding of New Orleans. Something is seriously flawed if this opportunity is squandered and not realized.

The Friends of Lafitte Corridor group was created to help see this project become a reality. They have established a yahoo discussion group which can be seen here. The Mid City Neighborhood Association website also periodically mentions developments of the Lafitte Corridor project. In May 2006, the 2nd Annual Lafiitte Corridor Hike was conducted to promote awareness of the greenspace potential of the right-of-way. Editor B's pictures of the event can be seen here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Lafitte Corridor, Rail-to-Trail

18 July 2006

South Carrollton/South Claiborne Walgreen's Redevelopment: One Site, Three Plans

Note: Red lines define proposed building footprints in each of the three exhibits.

Exhibit A: The Dangling Carrot. Exhibit A is the "grocery store" site plan presented to the public by Walgreen's developer and legal counsel as the proposal allowing New Orleans citizens to finally "get their grocery store" in Carrollton. I have named it "The Dangling Carrot." In this design, the Walgreen's store is setback from South Carrollton with nearly half of the block from the intersection occupied (200 feet minimum linear distance from the Carrollton sidewalk to the edge of the proposed building) with a parking lot--an orientation more suitable for suburban or exurban Walgreen's locations. On the plan, the grocery store footprint annotated as "Robert's Supermarket" is shoved in the far back corner of the city block away from the intersection hemmed in behind the existing NOFD fire station in a seemingly disadvantaged location for visibility from both South Carrollton and South Claiborne. In this presented site plan, the Walgreen's building has more square footage than the proposed grocery store which conventionally doesn't quite seem logical. The layout of the buildings and the configuration of the parking is atrocious--especially given the fact this site lies within a tight urban setting. The site plan makes no attempt to lessen the visual impact of the upfront parking scheme (and reliance upon landscape elements to be the sole "softening" element alone reveals a site plan flaw). Exhibit A's layout is not compatible (not in compliance with the law) with the requirements defined within the Carrollton Avenue Overlay Zone. And finally, the poorly designed plan falsely portrays the appearance of a cohesive/joint "team" site plan featuring both outlets which isn't the reality. Instead, each is a legally separate site to be developed completely independent of the other. The problem is the truth doesn't positively frame the discussion of the reality Walgreen's wants to portray.

With all the above discussed negatives, there's a actually one bigger problem with Exhibit A: its NOT the actual plan currently before the City Council. In fact, I believe calling it a ruse--and therefore my monkier of The Dangling Carrot--is a proper and appropriate title. See Exhibit B. Exhibit B: The Unattractive Girl Behind the 1-900 Sexy Voice. Exhibit B is the Walgreen's site plan that in reality currently sits before the New Orleans City Council awaiting the requested zoning variance approval or disapproval. In this plan, there is no grocery store--only a swath of open land behind the fire station bound by Nelson and Dublin Streets. The orientation of the Walgreen's building is the same as The Dangling Carrot, but there is no grocery store denoted on the site plan. The pill being pushed is that once Walgreen's has their store in place with the currently proposed layout, the space remaining on the backside of the city block awaits for the desperately-desired grocery store. Over the past seven years, Walgreen's has realized it was going to be very difficult to do what they wanted to do (build a competition-free suburban-layout on site) without a grocery store component. Therefore, they followed a strategy that played up the grocery store angle to seduce neighbors who otherwise would likely adamantly oppose Walgreen's Number 23,091 at South Carrollton/South Claiborne squandering the immediate area's last remaining legitimate property big enough to contain a full-scale grocery. Ah, but if the Walgreen's proposal included a grocery store then perhaps many would be willing to accept another drug store (along with the tradeoff of yet more blight at the to-be disregarded Earhart location). Therefore, The Dangling Carrot was drafted, and most importantly distributed--and some neighbors (most vocally from Fountainbleau) have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

With all of that said, I would like to clarify something. I am in no way saying that Walgreen's and Robert's Fresh Market are in collusion and that Mr. Robert isn't serious in his desire for a store at this high profile intersection. From what I understand there is a chance this is the case based on some of the personal relationships involved, but I honestly don't buy such a theory. I suppose it is very possible Mr. Robert is being played by Team Walgreen's, however. Certainly, the layout and location marked for the Robert's in The Dangling Carrot is not in the most advantageous or marketable location. I would suggest the Walgreen's-derived siteing very purposely places Robert's at a disadvantage as both stores would both certainly be in competition for the sale of some products. What I do think is this: Walgreen's doesn't care if the Robert's is built or not built or if an actually built Robert's manages to stay open or fails at this site--they'd actually likely prefer it to fail. All they know is that in order to satisfy the politicos and the politico's constituents is that the "grocery store" component has to be (to borrow part of my now favorite cut-and-run company's slogan) the sizzle. The reality of what happens on the site a year from now or five years from now has nothing to do with it. Walgreen's has paid tons of money since the late-1990's to have development rights at this site--which, provided they fulfill all zoning requirements, is their legal right. Back at HQ in Deerfield, Illinois, something has to happen soon to justify the ongoing hefty expenditure. Thus, the ingenious Dangling Carrot approach.
Exhibit C: The Dionisio Sensible Alternative. Rodney Dionisio is an architect and a resident of Carrollton. On his own accord, he has developed an alternative site plan featuring two separate buildings for both Walgreen's and Robert's Fresh Market. His plan is appropriate to the sensitive nature of the site's urban surroundings and meets the "on the street" conditions of the Carrollton Urban Overlay Zone. I believe he did say that a parking space variance would be required in the above plan, but he actually also developed a second scheme that featured additional rooftop spaces on top of the grocery store building (which I actually prefer--and I believe this design feature should be included in all New Orleans area urban box stores). The building configuration is the same in his rooftop parking version, but some of the surface parking geometry is altered to allow for the access ramp. In his plan the desirable urban "containment of space" created by the building facades along the streets is achieved in lieu of the dead space surface lots between buildings and streets create--as is proposed in the Walgreen's pitched Exhibit A and the non-pitched Exhibit B. The parking is situated between the buildings with the buildings serving as containment preventing the Veterans Boulevard "sea of concrete" appearance. Mr. Dionisio has also appropriately provided the grocery store with more square footage than the drug store footprint (which Walgreen's isn't going to like). His effort illustrates that the design challenges and the ownership realities of this site can indeed be made to work.

To quickly conclude this long-winded post in Cliff Note fashion: Walgreen's has presented Exhibit A (The Dangling Carrot) to the citizens of New Orleans as a re-development proposal that in addition to a new Walgreen's store additionally fulfills Carrollton's wishes for a new full-service grocery store. In reality, the exact site plan of Exhibit A is not the site plan currently seeking a zoning variance and subsequent approval by the New Orleans City Council, instead it is the site plan of Exhibit B (The Unattractive Girl Behind the 1-900 Sexy Voice) . The site plan of Exhibit B (again, the one being voted on by the City Council) does not guarantee a grocery store, but only space where a grocery store could be potentially situated. Walgreen's is very purposely glossing over this very relevant fact and in this author's opinion pulling the old "bait and switch" which appears to be working flawlessly on some well-meaning neighborhood residents. Meanwhile, a concerned citizen and Carrollton resident who happens to be an architect drafted up site plan defined above as Exhibit C (The Dionisio Sensible Alternative) which appears to be the compromised, appropriate design solution. Is it possible to have a dialog between all relevant parties leading to such a design becoming implemented where Walgreen's get it's new store, Robert's Fresh Market expands to Carrollton, and the citizens of the adjacent neighborhoods are no longer subjected to the existing pathetic eyesore and are able to buy pork chops without having to venture to another ZIP Code?

Complete archive of THE THIRD BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS posts on this subject (some info maybe outdated):

14 March 2006
26 June 2006
28 June 2006
11 July 2006
17 July 2006

My new slogan: New Orleans NOT Non Orleans.

Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

17 July 2006

A Brief Look in the Mirror

I'd like to expand on a reply I made to a post concerning prosecuting those responsible for the deaths resulting from failed civil works projects. If I understood I.D. Reily's post, he suggested Charles Foti dropped the ball by not prosecuting those responsible for the deaths resulting from the levee failures during Katrina. I disagreed (without name calling...imagine that) because:

It discourages new construction and out the box thinking. No one can argue that the New Orleans area levee system is unique, not just to the country but the world. Unlike levee constrution, highway and building design is taught in enginnering courses around the country. There are BMP's (best management practices) and volumes of research avalible for proper design of these structures. While similar BMP's exist for levees, this work is more modern and was untested until Katrina. If engineers have to worry about being prosecuted or sued by attempting unprecedented civil works projects, what person or contracting company is going to take on the job of protecting this city?

Double talk. If you ask to prosecute the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors at the same time as asking for CAT 5 levees then your talking out both sides of your mouth. Be consistent. BTW, double talk has been wide spread lately. Here's a few of my favorites:

  • My favorite example of this is people who were critical of looters --- everyone knows a few. You know, the type of people who repeatedly take shots at those on welfare "because they take advantage of the system" or those stealing the TV's during the storm, but then when they got home after being gone for two weeks to their relatively unharmed home (for those who didn't flood) they applied for full FEMA assistance because all of a sudden "they deserved it". I still can't figure out whats worse, the people looting TV's or those critical while in line at Best Buy buying the same TV with left over FEMA money they didn't need. Funny how it's never "taking advantage of the system" when money and food stamps is offered to you.
  • Another example is people being critical of Californians who built in known landslide areas. I admit, I'm guilty of this one. I was one of the one's before the storm pointing fingers saying "how could people live in those areas" and "people shouldn't rebuild in that area." My perspective really changed when I was traveling post-K and people asked the same questions. I know many bias readers would disagree, but us/we living in flood prone metro New Orleans are no different than those living in California where they are just as prone to landsides.

Enough with the finger pointing. Take SOME responsibility for the area you choose to reside. Its almost been a year, time to move on with your life and rebuild or just plain move to an area with less vulnerablity.

Once THE event took place, many people played the Jeff Spicoli card, "I don't know" ---Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I hope you already knew that. Now that this has happened no one can play stupid and get off by saying "I didn't know." I'd argue 99% of the people reading this post had some idea of the risks involved with living in this area unless you somehow missed the T-P spreads, hour news specials on the issue, National Geographic editions, coastal experts, etc., etc. predicting this event. If you knew before the storm that levees would eventually be toppled or broken pre-K, then while pointing fingers and playing the blame game, be consistant and hold yourself partially accountable.

In case you "didn't know" the history of levees, do a five minute google search... THEY BREAK.

In my opinion, you can't hold engineers liable for known engineering liabilities. To think engineers purposely designed something to fail is ridiculous. They used the best science currently available, ran those numbers and built what they could within an approved budget.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Levees

Taking Walgreen's to the Sheets . . .

I took a quick trip down to South Florida this weekend (thus the lack of posts, and my unfortunate absence from the NOLA blog get-together), not for any sort of vacation, but to pick up family-heirloom furniture for my soon-to-be born New Orleans re-population effort's bedroom. The furniture has safely sat two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in my wife's grandparent's house for the past sixty years. Myself and a friend--whom I will call Red Toe-3 (its amazing what you find out about people when in a closed space for so many hours), owner of two MANMADE flood-destroyed houses in Lakeview--left on Friday morning and returned yesterday evening (Sunday) with the antique bedroom set in tow. We were gone for 72 hours and spent 26 of them in the car--nearly 16 of them on Monotony Highway, aka I-10. That's no vacation in my book.

I left my house Friday morning at 5:30am to make the 800+ mile drive. When I got the the intersection of South Carrollton and South Claiborne en route to I-10, to my astonishment were two banners (bed sheets) hanging from the awning of the graffiti/Gray Ghost-covered decaying shell of the former K&B/Rite Aid. One read: "SEVEN YEARS BLIGHT, THANKS WALGREEN'S" and the other stated: "URBAN SITE, URBAN DESIGN." I fumbled for my camera and clicked a few shots. When I got to the intersection of Earhart and South Carrollton, I glanced at the litter-covered, overgrown, now-abandoned Walgreen's there. Yet another appropriate statement: "WALGREEN'S KILLS NEIGHBORHOODS." Click.

A couple of my pictures follow. b.rox has some daytime (and better quality) shots and commentary. Be sure to check out the link he has to the National Trust information.

"SEVEN YEARS BLIGHT, THANKS WALGREEN'S" and "URBAN SITE, URBAN DESIGN." How about those pieces of hurricane-blown roof that still remain strewn in the branches of that sickly Live Oak? Pathetic.

"WALGREEN'S KILLS NEIGHBORHOODS." How about that maintenance at the shuttered Earhart Walgreen's store?

Seriously, why on earth should our city give Walgreen's "the keys" when they consistently continue to show disregard and indifference (nearly to the point of contempt) to the appearance of existing stores and properties within New Orleans?

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

12 July 2006

Charles Foti: Where are you?

It must be a fantastic feeling to know you live in a state where the Attorney General is willing to prosecute those responsible for the deaths of individuals caused by the failure of major civil works projects (e.g., bridges, tunnels, LEVEES!). For those of you that are not aware of this process, all registered professional engineers take on the liability of projects they approve, throughout the design, construction and operations/maintenance processes. In Boston yesterday, a portion of the Big Dig highway tunnel (the overly expensive, incredibly ambitious tunnelling of the interstate system under Downtown) collapsed and fell on an automobile, killing a Boston woman. Immediately the state Attorney General began issuing subpoenas and promising criminal prosecution for those engineers and contractors responsible.

If the death of one woman can spark this much action by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, wouldn't you think that the death of over 1,400 individuals due to the failure of poorly designed/constructed floodwalls in New Orleans could capture Louisiana's Attorney General Charles Foti's attention? It is ashame that the Foti is incapable of sending a message to engineers and contractors working in Louisiana that if you design and build a structure that fails due to negligence, you will be criminally liable and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All residents of metro New Orleans, whose very lives and livelihoods are at risk from shoddy civil engineering and construction work, deserve nothing less.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, Levees, Charles Foti

11 July 2006

South Carrollton/South Claiborne Walgreen's Redevelopment: One Neighborhood Citizen's Thoughts

A week and a half ago (28 June 2006), New Orleans City Council District A Councilperson Shelley Midura conducted a "town meeting" at the City Hall Council Chambers to address the proposed South Carrollton/South Claiborne Walgreen's-centered redevelopment. About fifty or so citizens were in attendance at this third such meeting and about twenty or so took the opportunity to air their views of the proposed project to those in attendance. Surprisingly, no Walgreen's representatives or lawyers nor the developer was at this meeting--or at least none of these if in attendance took the opportunity to present their opinions. The majority of those Orleanians that spoke were in opposition to the granting of the zoning variance and in opposition to the Walgreen's site plan currently under consideration. Those that did speak in favor of the zoning variance concentrated from the Fountainbleau neighborhood and their sentiment all echoed the same: they are dissatisfied with the abandoned and blighted property currently at the site and just want something productive--anything--to be redeveloped at such a key intersection within New Orleans. They just want the eyesore that has festered there for over seven years along with the related negative side effects (or perception of) of such blight to go away.

I agree with them completely--I want that blighted property made history as well and for the site to become commercially productive again (in shopping convenience for us residents of the Carrollton/Fountainbleau neighborhoods and for tax revenue and job generation for the City of New Orleans), but not at the cost of letting Walgreen's build whatever they want, how they want, not following the rules of a very carefully created overlay zoning district. The impetus--in my opinion--should be a grocery store at that site, not yet another Walgreen's--a corporation I don't think has done anything in the past in New Orleans to warrant giving an inch to. I'm wandering . . . the next post to address the "dangling carrot" of the grocery store strategy part of the story. To the point of this posting:

Scott Andrews lives several blocks lakeside from the site. He spoke in opposition to the current site plan and the possible granting of a zoning variance by the City Council. I thought he very effectively and passionately worded his concerns and his reasoning for his convictions on this matter. Courtesy of a word document via email from Scott, here's what he said:

"Having sat through and having participated in three town hall style meetings in two weeks, it is now time for all of us to sit back and analyze the information we have been presented with, both from the developers, and from the citizens of the neighborhoods that border and include the site in question.

On one side we have a developer, who has built a number of Walgreen's in the city, with various levels of success, and his attorney, who ironically is on the Garden District Association's Zoning Committee, dictating to the citizens of four different neighborhoods. They have presented a plan for a strategically prominent block, in a historic neighborhood, at the end of a historic streetcar line, across from a historic public park that breaks the zoning laws of the city, that does not respond to the surrounding architectural fabric of the neighborhoods it claims to want to serve, and looks like any other Walgreen's site one might find in suburbia (which is the antithesis of this site). They claim that their reason for requesting the variance is to allow for a grocery store which some people in the neighborhood want somewhere in their neighborhood. This despite the fact that the grocery store has not secured a lease for the site, has not secured licensing for their store, has not applied to the city for the numerous variances required to lawfully build on the site, and has not responded to the numerous concerns that citizens of the neighborhood have about the parking patterns on the site, these being the disproportionate amount of parking Walgreen's has on the site as compared to the grocery store, the two-way traffic pattern that separates the grocery from the Walgreen's and cuts across the block (which will hinder shoppers crossing from the Walgreen's lot on the corner to the grocery store site), or the partial annexation of a residential block for employee parking.

I have shown the site plan to numerous disinterested parties, both architects and layperson alike, and all have had the same reaction: "Who in their right mind would build a grocery store at the back of a lot, behind a Walgreen's, with little or no accessible parking?" They also, given the anonymity of the site plan, invariably ask "Where is this being proposed?", assuming it is a suburban site plan. When I tell them where it is, they are floored.

On the other side you have two sets of neighbors. Everyone that lives in the neighborhood is sick and tired of looking at the blight that has inhabited that corner for the last six years. That is a given and is universally shared. A large part of the responsibility for that must rest with the leaseholder of the property--Walgreen's. One group of neighbors is fed up with the blight, and sees a capitulation to the developer as their only chance to rid the block of the blight, and to maybe get a grocery store. I do not question their desire for a grocery store somewhere in the neighborhood, only the price they are willing to pay for it.The other, and may I opine the larger, group of neighbors realizes the significance of the Carrollton Overlay Zone to both their interests in the neighborhood and the interests of the city at large, and wants the setback rules of the overlay respected. I am in the latter category.

There is actually a third party involved in this as well. These are our neighbors in Mid City. It is no accident that representatives of Mid City have been at both meetings. They are watching the outcome of this, and will fight as hard, if not harder to protect the Carrollton Overlay in their area--it happened at the Sav-A-Center on Carrrollton, and will continue to be fought for.

This is the first major commercial development to be proposed in a flooded neighborhood on Carrollton Avenue since Hurricane Katrina. If we as a community allow the Overlay to be ignored by this developer in this instance, we will have to deal with this issue again and again each time a developer wants to put a parking lot in front of their establishment anywhere on Carrollton from the Riverbend to City Park. If we capitulate in this instance, we will not have a leg to stand on the next time a setback variance is proposed in the Carrollton Overlay.

Do not interpret this to mean that we as neighborhoods are intractable and anti-development. That is a too simplistic view to have on a very complicated matter. The development of this corner could be accomplished, with a little ingenuity and site design "know how", with a design solution that incorporates both a Walgreen's and a grocery store, and that follows the zoning setback laws of the Carrollton Overlay. The problem is that we are dealing with a developer whose attitude is "it's my way or the highway" or in this instance, continued blight.

I would personally like to thank Councilperson Midura, for her hard work on and dedication to this matter. We look forward to working with the City Hall in the next four years to make our neighborhood and indeed all neighborhoods in the city places that we are truly proud to call home."

Very well said, Scott. The bolding above is my emphasis. The grocery store hasn't secured a lease . . . Hasn't secured licensing . . . Hasn't applied for the variances they need . . . Hmmmmmmm. Those small technical details seem important, do they not????

I harbor no ill feelings towards those from Foutainbleau that came up to the podium and speak in favor of the project "as-is." Nearly all of them spoke with complete conviction and I know care, love, and value New Orleans as much as I and the others opposed to this "plop and drop" proposal do. Heck, they didn't bail on New Orleans post-KTMB--they want to be here. I think they've just been beaten down by the rotting shell the former National/Canal Villerie and K&B/Rite Aid has very purposely become over the last seven years. They are tired about talking about it. By unifiying together in oppostition of this site plan and forcing a working, to code, design solution, the Carrollton/Fountainbleau neighborhoods, Walgreen's, and (Insert Grocery Store Here) can all win. But in order for this to happen, our political leadership--the City Council--and the City Planning Commission--must be the ones to physically foster it.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

09 July 2006

The Present-Day Result of 1960's "Urban Renewal" in St. Louis

The image above is taken from Google Maps of the St. Louis Place Park area of the City of St. Louis. Block after inner city block in the name of urban renewal and "slum clearance" was bulldozed over 30 years ago and today what remains is a near-deserted wasteland in the "renewed" areas. In those same 30 years, suburban and exurban expansion to the once rural lands to the west and to the south of St. Louis has exploded. New Orleans, for the part, avoided most of the federally-funded urban renewal programs and this decision left New Orleans with most of it's historic neighborhoods and structures intact. It is possible and unfortunate however, that a similar "checkboard" pattern of development (mostly vacant lots populated with sporadic structures here and there) could be the post-KTMB outcome in the heavily flood-impacted areas of New Orleans such as Lakeview, Gentilly, and New Orleans East. Hopefully, this will be minimalized long term.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Urban Planning, St. Louis, Urban Renewal

The New Orleans Neighborhoods Rebuilding Plan Website

The website for the New Orleans City Council-sponsored New Orleans Neighborhoods Rebuilding Plan can be found here. I had no idea this site existed--and I've been involved somewhat with the efforts of a couple of the participating neighborhoods.

The list (and links to information) of the 50 participating flood-ravaged neighborhoods can be seen here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, Urban Planning, Neighborhood

Harry Shearer: Perpetuation of THE Myth

From the post:

It's now embedded as MSM wisdom the notion that what happened to New Orleans almost a year ago was a hit from a hurricane, as opposed to the fact: that what almost destroyed the city was a set of levee breaches caused by the design and construction flaws of the levees and floodwalls, courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Yep--dead right. Read the rest of the post. Mr. Shearer continues to relentlessly champion the cause of New Orleans. My thanks to Derek Smalls himself.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Levees

Palm Beach Post: Could Tampa Bay be the Next New Orleans?

The realization of the vulnearability of the Tampa Bay area to hurricanes and related-storm surges is featured in a story in today's Palm Beach Post. The majority of the urban area's population lives on land with an elevation less than 20 feet above sea level adjacent to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Tampa Bay estuary system and the last direct hit by a hurricane was in 1921. The Tampa Bay estuary system (comprised of Old Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay, McKay Bay, and New Tampa Bay) covers 400 square miles compared to the 630 square miles of Lake Pontchartrain. The article tends to be focused on the potential property loss more so than the potential loss of life. The piece forgot to mention that Tampa has more Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters, and Outback Steakhouses than New Orleans does.

UPDATE, 12 JULY 2006: They've added a flash animation modeling the storm surge inundation of the Tampa Bay area in a Category 4 hurricane landfall north of St. Petersburg.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Tampa Bay, Flood

07 July 2006

Photo du Jour: I'm Going to Graceland . . .

For our return trip to New Orleans from St. Louis we decided to stretch the drive to two days and spend the night in Memphis--well, actually Tunica, Mississippi. But before driving those last 30 miles into Mississippi and Tunica, we decided to be counted as part of the 700,000 annual vistors to Elvis' house Graceland. I don't know which was more tramatizing . . . the hideous interiors at Graceland (I finally saw firsthand the three TV room) or the Disney-fied Pat O'Brien's on Beale Street complete with the centerhall, the local's bar on the left, the piano bar on the right, and the courtyard straight ahead with fountain con flame.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Memphis

05 July 2006

Photo du Jour: Boat Parade on Lake Tishomingo

I am currently seeking rest and relaxation at a relative of my wife's home on Lake Tishomingo-- to the south of St. Louis in Jefferson County, Missouri. One of the traditions here on Lake Tishomingo is the annual 4th of July boat (party barge) parade. Naturally, since we are here, the "New Orleans" theme was decided upon by my wife's relatives. Before I left home, I went up into the attic and grabbed several plastic bags worth of beads to bring up for the parade. Their party barge was done up with purple, green, and gold streamers, decorated with beads, and the City of New Orleans flag was hung on the flagpole. Many of the other "floats" were more elaborately decorated and feature costumed riders, but all they were all doing was handing out waves and smiles at people in other boats and onshore, while our group was throwing out beads to everyone. The banner on the both sides of the party barge predictably read "Let the Good Times Roll" in French and in English as my idea of "New Orleans is not OK" was vetoed as too grim. Gotta send THE message . . . . Everyone I have encountered here in St. Louis to which the subject has been brought up has been supportive towards the rebuilding of New Orleans. Three particular words came up repeatedly with several of these people as they are fully aware of their own city's precariousness. The three words: New Madrid Fault.

(Wow--I forgot how slow dial-up is . . .)

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Lake Tishomingo

01 July 2006

Photos du Jour: "Down the Bayou" in Terrebonne Parish

Falgout Canal Road, Dularge. Saltwater intrusion-fried cypress stands courtesy of the Houma Navigational Channel (HNC) is illustrated above. The HNC is a similarily ill-conceived canal as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) dug in the early 1960s which gives the City of Houma (30+ miles inland) direct navagable marine access to the Gulf of Mexico. Just as the MRGO has acted as a conduit for saltwater intrusion and massive wetland loss in St. Bernard Parish, the HNC has done arguably even worse damage to the inland swamps and wetlands of Terrebonne Parish.

Co-Co Marina, Cocodrie. Since I was a kid, my family would take the ride down to Co-Co for lunch or dinner on special days like birthdays or like two weekends ago--Father's Day. Co-Co's claim to fame is its charter fishing excursions, but the food at the restaraunt is quite good. Yesterday I went with "The Islander" which is their large fried seafood combination--oysters, shrimp, fish, and a softshell crab. During Hurricane Rita in September 2005 the water level rose about six feet above its normal level. Major damage was sustained to the marina in August 1992 during Hurricane Andrew's landfall about 50 miles to the west in St. Mary Parish.

Co-Co Marina, Cocodrie. Manufactured in Grenoble, France, MART (Mississippi Area River Transit) car #53 has seen better days--the car has probably been underwater multiple times over the past 15 or so years based on its location. The MART (often referred to as the "gondola") was the lift constructed over the Mississippi River for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition (World's Fair). I remember in the late 1980's/early 1990's when these cars were auctioned off after the MART was disassembled. I can recall seeing several of them in backyards around Southern Louisiana being used as greenhouses. Unforuntate that the MART couldn't persist as a viable transportation/commuter alternative beween the CBD and Algiers Point/Westbank.

The Cocodrie Water Tower, Cocodrie. There are four main ridges or four "down the bayous" that radiate from the high ground of Houma down towards the ever-enlarging inland bays and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. From west to east they go Dularge, Dulac, Chauvin/Cocodrie, and Montegut/Bourg. Each has its own character and worthy of exploration. Want a good day trip from New Orleans that will bring you to another world? Check out these communities before erosion or a future hurricane make them resemble what similar communities in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish look like post-KTMB. This water tower is significant in that is used as a site marker for boats coming back inland from offshore as it can be seen for at least ten miles away on a clear day and is the tallest structure around.

La Butte (E. Picou Cemetery), Cocodrie. A 20th century cemetery (still used) rests on top of a 1,000+ year old indian mound. Only one mound remains, but this mound was once part of a complex of mounds between Cocodrie and Chauvin. There are many indian mounds throughout Terrebonne Parish.

Cecil Lapeyrouse Grocery, Cocodrie. This old general store now serves as a bait and tackle store. If you ever make it down here, stop by and grab a drink here and go to the courtyard between the back of the store and the bayou edge. It is an oasis. My best memory of this place was several years ago when Hollis P. Wood and I and his father stopped here for bait one early morning. The only language being spoken in the courtyard by the older men drinking their coffee was French. Hollis' dad grew up in Montegut so was able to get right into the conversation. Unfortunately, Hollis and I like most of our generation know no French and with his dad's generation most of the French connection will cease to exist in the majority of Southern Louisiana. I never did understatnd why French wasn't kept mandatory in schools in certain portions of Southern Louisiana to retain this as part of our culture.

Bayou Petit Caillou Camps, Cocodrie. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, laws were changed forcing construction below a certain point south of Houma to be 12 feet above sea level in order to qualify for insurance. The amount of road-accessible camps built in Cocodrie since Andrew has been staggering. These are camps or weekend home type buildings and for the most part not permament residences, but behold--I give you the new look of Lakeview, Gentilly, and New Orleans East. Imagine the difference during the post-KTMB flooding if similar raised construction (aesthetically improved versions of course) would have been the norm in these sections of New Orleans.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Terrebonne Parish, Cocodrie, Houma Navigation Channel, Sign