Unless $400 million materializes out of thin air in the next 10 days, the UMC is still, despite all sorts of rhetorical floundering, short on financing. And even if money rained down like manna over the barren wastes of the UMC Footprint, there is still no business plan - and there won't be one until at least September.
That's why it's altogether timely and appropriate that Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy will be speaking in New Orleans on July 26, 2011, hosted by a diverse, growing coalition of over 26 community groups. The Treasurer will speak on the fiscal realities of the UMC at 6:00 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church at 3700 Canal Street in Mid-City. After brief remarks, the public is encouraged to ask questions, provide suggestions, and share comments. Given the stunning lack of public input on a monstrous and destructive plan, especially in the earliest stages, this event is a matter of justice.
The destruction of neighborhoods to make way for the LSU/VA hospital is the Claiborne elevated expressway of its day - a dagger through the heart of a community, a true travesty that the community will rue for decades because it is so unwise. Show up on July 26 to make sure that your voice is heard. Speak up to influence this ongoing process while you can.
We urge all citizens to support putting the UMC in the existing Charity Hospital building! We should not allow the state and LSU to demolish their way to what they want. Even though the UMC site grows more desolate with each passing day (the state continues to destroy mindlessly), there is still one key use that the site could be put to: an alternative site for the BioDistrict. As heart-breaking as it may be, it would be one use that could help to "cage" the BioDistrict in a more dense, vertical, urban setting closer to downtown. Rather than sprawling across hundreds and hundreds of acres in Mid-City and Gert Town, this redirection of the BioDistrict would take inappropriate development pressure off key residential areas.
Not that it's clear where the "biomedical corridor" will get its funding. It looks like the Governor just made a veto that swatted down over $700k that would have gone to the BioDistrict. And the Cancer Center on Tulane Avenue, noted as a BioDistrict facility, is $15 million short of financing necessary to complete due to a state failure to allocate funds. The Pennington biomedical research facility in Baton Rouge is struggling along as well. Overall, the "bio-" promise of jobs and economic development is looking rather bleak. We're not against biosciences development - we simply note that most facilities and ventures in this field in Louisiana seem to be more dependant than robust these days.
Thanks to Treasurer Kennedy for agreeing to help provide citizens with a straightfoward and honest understanding of the financial situation facing the UMC. That's far more than the fanciful mirage many officials have been foisting on citizens. Come out on July 26 for a critical public discussion on this important community issue.