Notes from New Orleans: End Run?

Posted on: January 9th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Early Saturday, I received via email a copy of a draft environmental assessment that had been completed on November 20 for the New Orleans Veterans Administration medical complex, which the city wants built in the Mid-City National Register district. This is the kind of document which normally would be a very visible part of a comprehensive—and public—review process fro such a large development project affecting historic properties.

Instead, this has all the markings of trying to do an end-run around all environmental and historic reviews. For example, at some point, at some unknown time and place a notice had been placed seeking public comment on this document by December 19. So much for transparency and public participation.

I went through the document quickly and saw that it gives a nod to environmental, cultural, and historical issues, but not surprisingly, its language seems to want to lead to a predetermined finding of no significant impact. The correspondence attached at the end of the DEA is curious in that no communication is shown with the state historic preservation office either.

I have notified the state historic preservation office of this, and we also will be in touch with the VA’s historic preservation officer. Sadly, this all sounds much like the efforts the state medical system is using to try to ramrod through its own plans for a new public medical center in the same National Register District.

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.

California Town Digs for Ideas to Preserve Historic Ditch

Posted on: January 8th, 2008 by Margaret Foster

 

ZanjaIn California, where water is king, an irrigation ditch can have more historic clout than Plymouth Rock.

A Southern California group wants to create parkland around a historic 12-mile-long ditch, built in 1819 in Redlands, Calif.

Located in San Bernardino County, the Zanja, which is Spanish for ditch, delivered water to the local Spanish mission, San Bernardino Asistencia; it has been a flood-control channel for the past 80 years.

A third of the trench has already been cemented over and erased by apartment buildings and other development, so now is the time to act, says Sherli Leonard, executive director of the Redlands Conservancy, which will welcome the public's ideas in a Jan. 28 meeting.... 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.

Notes from New Orleans: Clio Street Update

Posted on: January 7th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

A follow-up to the story of the deconstruction of the house at 1826 Clio Street, which was a Trust-PRC-Mercy Corps media event on November 19.

Kristen Palmer, director of Rebuilding Together, reported that RT’s construction managers were able to use the salvaged material in RT projects, including all of the ¾-inch plywood, which looked pretty rough at the deconstruction site. Once volunteers de-nailed and trimmed the wood, items were easier to handle and use, and the amount of re-usable material was maximized.

Rebuilding Together, says Kristen, would like to continue the relationship and seek out another house with Mercy Corps. We are always careful to say that deconstruction should be the option when all other means of saving a house from demolition are exhausted.

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.

Walgreens to Replace Rare Wisconsin Barn

Posted on: January 7th, 2008 by Margaret Foster

 

Beloit, Wisc.This could be the last winter for one of the last 19th-century cobblestone buildings in southeast Wisconsin.

Last month, the owner of the 1846 structure sold the site to Walgreens for a new store in Beloit, Wisc. The city issued a condemnation order to owner Mark Finnegan on Nov. 29, three weeks before the Dec. 18 sale, saying it was unsafe and too expensive to repair. ... 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.

Notes from New Orleans: Permit Moratorium

Posted on: January 4th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Overlooked by many at the City Council meeting approving the public housing demolitions on December 20, was the passage later in the day of a moratorium on all permits—building permits as well as demolition permits—within the boundaries of the proposed LSU and VA medical complexes in the Mid-City National Register historic district.

Ostensibly, the moratorium is "...to enable the study and development of a zoning classification appropriate for a Regional Medical District...." It is to remain in effect for one year "...or until implementation of permanent land use measures in conjunction with the planning and development of the Regional Medical District...." If someone wants to get a permit, they must appeal to the City Planning Commission staff and then the applicant must go before the City Council. Demolition applications in this area would no longer go before the Housing Conservation District Review Committee; they would go through the same appeal process.

This places a new burden and disincentive on a property owner to repair his property in this neighborhood—and places everything under the authority of the City Council. The lead on the moratorium was Councilwoman Stacy Head.

This affects 71 acres of land, some of which have been repopulated by residents repairing and returning to their homes, as well as local institutions such as Deutsches Haus, a long-standing German society.

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.