Charity Hospital: Lawsuit Filed Against Department of Veteran Affairs and FEMA

Posted on: May 1st, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

Continuing our efforts to save the historic Mid-City neighborhood from needless demolition - 67 acres of homes and businesses in Mid-City are slated to be demolished to make room for sprawling new hospital campuses for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University - the National Trust for Historic Preservation today filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs and FEMA (FEMA is funding part of LSU’s hospital, and therefore has a responsibility to evaluate the impacts of the project on the community in which it is located).

The lawsuit claims that during the environmental review process, VA and FEMA failed to fully evaluate the devastating effects that their plan would inflict on historic properties - factors they must consider under federal law. Despite the fact that the new hospitals would mean razing hundreds of homes and businesses and wiping a historic neighborhood off the map, the federal agencies determined that the damage to the neighborhood would be “insignificant.”

Obviously, we disagree. Many homeowners in Mid-City have painstakingly restored their homes since Katrina’s flooding devastated their neighborhood. By returning to the city after the storm, pouring thousands of dollars and untold hours of sweat-equity into fixing their homes and rebuilding their community, these homeowners have done exactly what was asked of them. To then turn around and deem it “insignificant” that their neighborhood will be demolished is just plain wrong.

Rather than delaying the return of medical care to veterans and the people of New Orleans, the intention of the lawsuit is to have the opposite effect: by encouraging the agencies to revisit their site-location decisions, the agencies could choose sites that would not only avoid delays, but allow the hospitals to open sooner than under current plans.

>> Read More About the Lawsuit

>> Read the Complaint Filed by the National Trust

>> Learn More About Our Efforts to Save Mid-City New Orleans

-Betsy Merritt

Betsy Merritt is deputy general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she has been responsible for the National Trust's legal advocacy program for the past 25 years.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Teaching Preservation: Change Is in the Air

Posted on: May 1st, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about our big move to our new school building. A few weeks in, we’re still adjusting, but here are some initial thoughts (and photos).

The new Research History nook.

The new Research History nook.

So, what’s the main difference between our old school and this new palace? Security…to the tune of 69 cameras throughout our halls, automatically locking doors and required visitor passes. I also still have trouble with the stairs, which I’m only allowed to use at certain times. We have great technological capabilities, but not so great technology (hence our posts being few and far in between lately). Also, each classroom is equipped with two microphones, which Mr. LaRue really doesn’t need, as you can hear him anywhere in the building.

As for Research History, we have a great little place to transcribe now (see photo to the right). It’s a little workroom in the back of the library that we have claimed as our own. We shut the door, turn on our tapes, and occasionally hunt for food and candy left behind by our librarian (don’t tell!).

Really though, I have no intention of bashing my new school, which my whole community paid for. I just miss my old school here and there. There were fewer rules, I knew my way around and, most importantly, I felt like I earned the right to be a senior there. Now, I’m just as clueless and disoriented as the freshman, which makes making fun of them difficult.

Now for the photos...

Welcome to the new Washington High School!

Welcome to the new Washington High School!

This is the new gym where, in just a few fews, I'll walk across the stage.

This is the new gym where, in just a few weeks, I'll walk across the stage.

The fancy new library.

The fancy new library.

And, on a final note, a bit of housekeeping. Today is, of course, the first day of May. Might be just another day for some, but for us high school seniors, it’s a day or reckoning because it means that graduation is literally right around the corner (holy cow!).

What it also means is that, sadly, our time together is limited. Over the next two weeks, we’ll post our final stories about Good Hope and life in Research History, and that’s it. Dunzo. Finished. Finito.

Stay tuned…

- Sara S.

Sara S. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, she’ll be working with her Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Today marks the launch of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Something

Kalaupapa Peninsula on the Island of Moloka’i

As we look forward to celebrating Asian and Pacific Island culture in America, we begin today with some good news about federal legislation - proposed and passed - that will provide much-needed resources for the preservation of sites of Japanese internment during World War II.

In March, the federal Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 appropriated $1 million for the preservation of Japanese American confinement sites. Administered by the National Park Service, this funding will support the interpretation, protection and restoration of these historic places.

Also in March, President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 , which includes over 160 bills related to public lands, national parks, historic sites and battlefields, conservation and wilderness designation, national heritage areas and corridors, and historic trails.

Receiving broad, bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, this milestone legislation establishes a memorial in Kalaupapa National Historical Park, which is located on the island of Moloka’i in Hawai’i. The primary story being told at Kalaupapa National Historical Park is that of the forced isolation from 1866 until 1969 of people from Hawai'i afflicted with Hansen's disease (leprosy).

Also included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 is the authorization of a special resource study of the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Modoc County, California, to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing a new unit of the National Park System. Tule Lake is the site of one of the largest and most controversial Japanese American internment camps. It is also the only camp that was turned into a high-security segregation center. In December 2008, President George Bush declared the site part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

On April 23, Senator Dan Inouye of Hawai’i introduced legislation to have the Secretary of the Interior conduct a study to determine if internment camp sites in Hawai’i are eligible for designation as National Park sites. The legislation focuses on sites identified in a report completed in 2007 by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i, including Honouliuli Gulch, Sand Island, the U.S. Immigration Station on Oahu, the Kīlauea Military Camp on the Big Island, Haiku Camp and Wailuku County Jail on Maui, and the Kalāheo Stockade and Waialua County Jail on Kauai. The National Trust for Historic Preservation partially funded archaeological studies at Honouliuli Gulch in 2008, and recently signed a letter of support to Senator Inouye (with six cooperating organizations) in favor of the new legislation.

- Denise Ryan & Elaine Stiles

Denise Ryan is the program manager for public lands policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Elaine Stiles is a program officer in the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Make a Weekend Out of Partners in Preservation

Posted on: April 30th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

National Preservation Month begins tomorrow. What better way to celebrate than by visiting a few Partners in Preservation sites in Greater Boston?

This coming Saturday and Sunday, all of our 25 participating historic places are opening their doors to the public for free or reduced admissions to prove why they deserve your vote.

Going beyond their usual schedule of tours, many of the sites have planned special events just for this weekend. Between boat building demonstrations, a klezmer concert, arts and crafts activities, African drumming classes, historical reenactments, sea chantey performances, and a midnight carousel ride, there will definitely be something for everyone. We also highly encourage you to check out the great deals on restaurants and lodging near each site offered exclusively by American Express, and to use MBTA or Zip Car to travel between destinations.

So please, come out and catch the Partners in Preservation excitement, whether you visit one site or make a day of it. Just don't forget to vote for the places that you like the best!

Not from Boston? Can't make it to the events? We've got you covered! For updates about this weekend’s events as they unfold, become a fan of Partners in Preservation on Facebook. And if one weekend of preservation excitement just isn’t enough for you, learn more about all the other ways we’re celebrating National Preservation Month.

- Alissa Anderson

Alissa Anderson is an intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast Office in Boston.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Portland: Achieving Sustainability One Demolition at a Time?

Posted on: April 29th, 2009 by Guest Writer 2 Comments

 

Written by Val Ballestrem

It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon has long prided itself as a forward-thinking city in terms of the environment, and maybe that’s deservedly so, at least in some respects. But there is one aspect of the sustainability equation that the city fails to address effectively: demolitions. Sure, from time to time we see great press coverage about some building or house that is being deconstructed. Even a few notables, like the Ladd Carriage House and the Simon Benson House, have been moved, and some fantastic buildings have been adaptively re-used. But for every building in Portland that is deconstructed, moved, or re-used, untold numbers are simply smashed to bits.

For the most part, demolitions face little review or public scrutiny in Portland. In fact, the City’s Bureau of Development Services is not even required to notify residents of impending demolitions, unless the building is on the National Register of Historic Places or is a locally designated landmark. Even then, most buildings can still be torn down after a demolition delay period. This means that the average homes and buildings that make up the fabric of our older neighborhoods can be taken down with zero public input or notification. Compounding the problem are the state’s owner consent laws, making it nearly impossible to halt demolitions, especially when the endangered building does not have officially recognized historic significance. The problem then is twofold. Without notification it is nearly impossible to save something that no one knows is endangered. Second, even if one knew of a pending demolition there is in most instances no legal mechanism to keep it from happening. The net result is that one day you might be walking by a house in your neighborhood, the next you might find it ripped to shreds. It is frustrating and sad to see this happen, and seems especially disingenuous when supported by public policy and a city that espouses its intentions to be the “most sustainable” in the world.

Case in point, just the other day I was walking to work and came across a house in mid-demolition phase. It was not even 9 a.m. and the contractor had already chewed up (literally) more than half of a modest, circa 1890, house in southeast Portland, just across the street and outside the borders of one of the city’s most notable historic districts – Ladd’s Addition. The huge pile of debris that was once someone’s home certainly didn’t fit my idea of recycling in any realistic way. In the rubble were windows, doors, trim, interior moldings, bricks from the foundation, etc… much of which was (prior to demolition) in usable condition. At the very least I thought the property owner was short-sighted for not recognizing that the house could have been renovated. But what really raised my blood-pressure was finding out later that this perfectly solid home was torn down – in order to simply build another single family residence. Where is the sustainability in demolishing one residence to simply construct another? I understand some houses need rehabilitation, but a city that supports a “demolish first” mindset is also supporting an enormous waste of resources, energy, and further contributes to global warming.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.