charity's blog

National Media Piles On

Since our last post, a number of national media outlets have turned their attention to the harsh realities of the LSU/VA Hospitals site - the consequences of not re-using Charity Hospital.

Here's a compilation of links to articles that have come out in the past three days:

"I don't want to go back to New Orleans since they took my house," he said. "I hate it. - Wally Thurman"
 
 
"one of the most controversial urban-planning projects in New Orleans since hurricane Katrina."
 
 
"But while the wrecking ball is swinging, the project is $400 million short on financing, according to Louisiana's own projections"

 

- Newsweek

Follow the links and comment on the articles.  Specifically, make sure that readers understand that it was not Hurricane Katrina that closed Charity Hospital five years ago, but the State of Louisiana instead.

 

Growing Scrutiny of the LSU/VA Hospitals Site

Various media sources and oversight bodies at the local, national and even international level have been demonstrating an increased focus on the destruction of Lower Mid-City as of late.

In the December 6, 2010 edition of Newsweek magazine, author Jeff Benedict writes about the regrettable decision to continue using eminent domain in the site of the proposed University Medical Center - despite the lack of funding.  A scanned version of the article can be found attached below.

Closer to home, the Times-Picayune provided an extensive article on the front page of today's Sunday paper that discussed, among other things, the impact of the property records computer crash at Civil District Court.  The article highlights the increased difficulty of acquiring the properties in the UMC Footprint - and the lengthening timeline for anticipated completion of the overall LSU/VA projects.  It begs the question: why didn't we simply reuse Charity Hospital at the outset and avoid the many problems that have since emerged with the alternate site?

On a more global level, the U.N. Advisory Group on Forced Evictions has released its report on human rights violations in New Orleans, using some choice words to describe the travails of residents in Lower Mid-City.  We reported on the Advisory Group when it visited the Lower Mid-City neighborhood back in 2008.

The growing focus on the neighborhood's fate is long overdue. 

Is your neighborhood an "opportunity zone" in BioDistrict New Orleans? Meetings this week

The New Orleans BioDistrict is a massive, 1,500-acre site that stretches from the CBD to Carrollton Avenue, and it includes much of Mid-City and Gert Town.

The BioDistrict (also known as GNOBEDD - which we've covered at length) stands to impact the entire city, but it ties into Charity Hospital and Lower Mid-City specifically.  Both are inside the BioDistrict's mammoth, overly ambitious footprint.

We encourage you to attend a number of meetings this week on the BioDistrict - which are designed for public input.  Please bring your skepticism, and ask questions to ensure that citizen voices are heard regarding this major project:

Community Workshop
Wednesday, Nov. 3 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Warren Easton High School
3019 Canal St.
2nd Floor Auditorium


Community Workshop
Thursday, Nov. 4 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Warren Easton High School
3019 Canal St.
2nd Floor Auditorium

Community Workshop
Saturday, Nov. 6 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
International House Conference Center
221 Camp St.
4th Floor Conference Room

Questions, Questions, Questions

 Lately, some seem to be treating the proposed LSU/VA hospitals as a done deal.  But anyone involved in the ongoing process knows one thing is clear: when it comes to Charity Hospital and Lower Mid-City, things aren't clear at all.

Recently, a meeting on adaptive re-use of the now-vacant Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital building revealed a stark message: citizens of New Orleans want the building to be re-opened as a hospital.  Nevertheless, representatives of the State of Louisiana and its contractor, Jacobs Engineering, adamantly opposed any effort to discuss the hospital option.  

So what will happen to the building?  Is demolition actually off the table?  At this point, it is unclear what the state intends to do with Charity Hospital.  That doesn't seem to bother the state, however.  A representative from Jacobs noted that bidding for the adaptive reuse would begin early in 2011, and a contractor would be chosen in the spring - an extremely rapid turnaround time given the lack of certainty as to the actual reuse, as one meeting attendee noted.  It's so rapid, in fact, that it raises questions about whether the state, Jacobs, and a few of its select "consulting parties"...already know what the adaptive reuse will be, despite going through the motions of public input sessions.

In Lower Mid-City, we want to know this: how will the city protect its own residents from the abuses of the site preparation for the proposed hospitals?  Recently, two residents of the proposed VA Hospital footprint filed suit in federal court to stop the proposed cut-off of utilities to residences - where they still had a legal right to remain, despite the state's attempt to strong-arm the last residents in the area:

http://www.wdsu.com/news/25559695/detail.html 

To date, it appears the state has backed away from its plan to cut utilities while residents remain.  Indeed, Entergy has refused to cut power to residents who continue to pay.

We have to ask: is this simply a foretaste of what's to come in the footprint of the proposed University Medical Center (LSU Footprint) hospital across S. Galvez?  This entire unfortunate exercise would have been avoided if LSU had simply rebuilt in Charity, as we've said all along.  

It's also unclear what legal arrangement governs site preparation in the VA Hospital footprint.  The Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the state and the city expired in August of 2010, from what we can tell.  It raises the question: in the absence of any formal agreement, what liabilities does the City of New Orleans remain liable for, should they arise from the site preparation?

Across S. Galvez, the demolitions have stopped in the LSU Footprint - for now.  That's fortunate because the UMC Board STILL does not have sufficient financing in place to build its hospital.  And, since the UMC and the state are still apparently unclear about the nature of their relationship, it's relevant to note that the state's funding picture is looking bleak.  The past few weeks have seen news articles outlining the massive budget cuts across departments and public institutions all over Louisiana.

Somehow, despite all the fiscal pain out there, the proposed LSU Hospital (UMC) remains a sacred cow:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/105148429.html?showAll=y&c=y

October 29th, 2010 Press Conference and Rally

The Committee To Re-Open Charity will be holding a news conference and community rally at the Outer Banks Bar,
2401 Palmyra Street. New Orleans, LA, 70119
Friday, Oct 29, 4pm.

Come quench your thirst and show your support for the residents and business people  of Lower Mid City.

"The media has not given enough coverage to the raw deal meted out to Lower Mid City by LSU and the State Office of Facility Planning and Control.  The State has announced the turning off of utilities on Oct 28, regardless of the fact that residents and business people are still living and operating in the VA footprint of LMC. 

Nicole, the business person operating the Outer Banks, ask for a generator, but the State sent an eviction notice.  The Office of Facility Planning clearly has no respect for the human rights and property rights of the people of Lower Mid City."

SaveCharityHospital.com will be in attendance. 

Flyer attached for distribution.

NOTICE OF UMC BOARD MEETING

NOTICE AND AGENDA FOR MEETING OF
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF
UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER MANAGEMENT CORPORATION

NOTICE lS HEREBY GIVEN that a meeting of the members of the Board of Directors of the University Medical Center Management Corporation will be held on October 28, 2010 beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. at the lnterim LSU Public Hospital, 2021 Perdido Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana in Room 101/102 Basement for purposes of:
Public Comment

Public comments may be made (1) when they relate to a matter on the agenda; and (2) when individuals desiring to make public comments have registered at least one-half hour prior to the meeting. The comment period is limited to one-half hour; 3 minutes per speaker. Written comment may also be submitted at any time.

1) Report from AMS Health Care Mortgage Corporation and Causey Demgen & Moore, Inc. on HUD Pre-Application and Debt Capacity Study;
2) Consideration of Authorization for Request for Proposals to Engage a Mortgage Banker;
3) Consideration of Authorization for Request for Proposals to Engage an Underwriter;
4) Report from Office of Facility Planning of the Division of Administration of the State of Louisiana on Construction Manager at Risk Agreement and status of construction project.

This Notice given by authority of the Chair of the Corporation the 25th day of October, 2010.

Talkin' Charity Hospital at City Hall Tomorrow

That's right.  Tomorrow is your chance to tell policy-makers how to use Charity Hospital.

Head to City Hall tomorrow evening to provide input on the potential reuse of Charity Hospital.  And be sure to make the obvious suggestion: reuse Charity Hospital...as Charity Hospital!  Utilizing the existing structure would eliminate concerns about the lack of funding for the proposed replacement hospital, and it would eliminate the need to demolish more of Lower Mid-City.

Monday October 18, 2010

6:00 pm to 8:30 pm: Public Meeting

Location: New Orleans City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street.

Reuse and/or Disposition of Historic Buildings in the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (Charity Hospital). The Louisiana State Office of Facility Planning and Control “seeks public input and comment in regards to adaptive reuse of the 9 historically significant buildings that made up the former MCLNO that were damaged during Hurricane Katrina…”

Advocates Call for Halt to Demolitions in UMC Footprint

On Monday, a large group of local advocates stood in front of a partially dismantled house in the footprint of the proposed UMC Hospital in Lower Mid-City (set to replace Charity Hospital) to call for a halt to demolitions.

LSU does not have the funding in place to build the replacement hospital.  The City has not closed the streets in the site at this time.  And unlike the VA Hospital site across S. Galvez, there are no house moving plans in place for the dozens of historic homes in the site.

Three properties have already been demolished despite the lack of funding to complete the project.

Here is a sampling of the media that resulted from the press conference:

"More resistance to state hospital plans"

"Preservationists call for LSU to move, not demolish homes"

"Activists argue for preservation of houses on University Medical Center site"

"Group Protests Demolitions For LSU Hospital"

 

Please contact local elected officials to reinforce the call for a halt to demolitions.

Forum Tonight: Symbol of City's Black Heritage Threatened in the VA Hospital Site

The Louisiana Museum of African American History Presents:

"Preserving a Piece of Black History" 

Learn the History of the the mansion built by Black entrepreneur S.W. Green and how Gov. Jindal's plans for the LSU and VA hospitals threaten a rare piece of Black history. . .
 
A Public Forum
Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 6:30 PM
St. James A.M.E. Church Fellowship Hall
219 N. Derbigny Street
New Orleans
 
Panelists:
  • Kathe Hambrick-Jackson Director, River Road African American Museum K
  • Kenneth Bryant, Architect, Artist, Author of Color
  • Keith W. Medley, Author-Researcher
  • Jari Honora, Researcher-Writer

Oct. 8 - City Council Finally Meeting Its Meeting Obligation

Come to the City Council chambers this Friday to express any sentiments you may have on the dismantling of Lower Mid-City - and call your Council Member and the Mayor to demand a moratorium on further demolitions until financial and legal irregularities can be addressed!

Residents of the LSU/VA Footprint are not currently scheduled to present at the meeting, even though the meeting is being held for their benefit.  The City Council's own earlier April resolution mandates that it hold regular meetings with residents in the LSU/VA Footprint to inform them as to what is being done to their neighborhood.

NEW ORLEANS City Council:
SPECIAL HOUSING & HUMAN NEEDS COMMITTEE MEETING

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2010 @ 10:00 AM

The City Council Housing and Human Needs Committee will hold a “Special” meeting on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in the City Council Chamber on the first floor of City Hall. The items offered for committee meetings are subject to approval by the committee chairperson. 

The agenda item(s) are as follows:

I. Presentation by the Administration regarding the status of the Veterans Administration Medical Center project’s property demolitions, acquisitions, and relocations, as required by Council Motion 
10-193: Number of closings, the scope of agreements reached, disputes, and the funds expended to 
date.

Presenter: Brenda Breaux, Chief Deputy City Attorney

For information regarding this meeting, please contact:  Theresa Becher at 504-658-1020 or Donna Johnson at 504-658-1095

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