Tuesday, February 07, 2006

NO East, No Mo'?

New Orleans East used to contain approximately 20% of the city's population on about 60% of the land area. Now it is mostly empty. With the exception of the reopened Home Depot, about the only activity seen today is the occasional clean-up crews, and they are now a rare sight.

I was the home to many of the city's black professionals. Now they have not patients to save, not clients to serve. And the future of New Orleans is in doubt. At least that's the impression Bloomberg.com give in this article.

``It should never have been built on,'' architect Allen Eskew told me as we toured the debris-filled streets.
I think the article is unduly pessimistic. Unseen to most, some people have moved back into their homes and an entire Vietnamese community has rebuilt and moved home completely below the media radar screen.

But because of the East's light population density and large undeveloped tracks of land (such as Bayou Sauvage N.W.R.), having that part of the parish does not make any sense. As I've said in a previous post, if the city footprint needs to be reduced, a simple solution (not politically that is) is to unincorporate everything east of the Industrial Canal - except the Lower Ninth Ward and Holy Cross. However, residents who wish to return, the government should not prevent them, but they need to be aware that they will not be able to receive the same city services that they are used to.

This is not to say that NO East will be living in the Wild East, the Parish of Orleans will be obligated to provide law enforcement as well as public schools. Both of these organizations are parish wide. Entergy is not about to turn down paying customers - despite what its CEO says. The Parish of Jefferson is mostly unincorporated and yet is one of the most prosperous parishes in the state. Orleans should follow its example.

Its time for the City of New Orleans to stop talking about what needs to be done and simply do it. People are waiting for the city to take action so that they can make their decision. The indecision of the governments is what's killing us.


Mark said...

I couldn't agree more about NO East. Moreover, I think the lakefront needs a good hard look. I'd best not ever say this in front of my wife's new boss (resident of Lake Terrace) or some other folks I know out that way (such as the owner of the Banks Street Bar and a few other peeps from my own days growing up Lakefront who managed to afford it): the original Levee Board charter speifically states they should develop it for public recreation. I don't think the strip along Lakeshore drive is enough. I think the whole thing has to go.

Lake Vista is a treasure, but it's not the neighborhood its original designers platted it to be. All of the lots were platted to make it a working class neighborhood. Everyone owns two or three. While a part of me would hate to see it gone, I think that the lakefront north of, say Filmore (excepting UNO) should be taken back to parkland.

Imagine was a fantastic amenity that would be. Imagine the vast tracts of land for impounding rain water while the flood gates on the canals are closed.

I will cry if this comes to pass. I will need to walk the lane between Egret and Dove Street, and sit beneath the water oak (if it's still here) right at the easement off the Dove Street circle where we all used to hang. and remember the moments of my childhood. Then, like everyone else in NOLA, I will have to pick up and get on with my life.

LatinTeacher said...

I drove through New Orleans East a couple of weekends ago. It is sad, it is depressing, and it is devastated. I met a couple of people who want to come back, but they look broken, lost, and confused. I like your proposal. And I agree. The time for talking is over. It's time to get to work. Even if it has to be one person at a time.

I am going down in March to help an old man in Gentilly sheetrock his home. He is waiting for a FEMA trailer but there is no electricity and I don't know if he even has water yet. But he has gutted his home and is ready to get on with his life. I can't help everyone, but I am going to help him. And then I will help someone else.

One at a time we will rebuild New Orleans. It would be nice if it were some other way, but right now it doesn't seem to be.

Polimom said...

Kinch, why would you not unincorporate the 9th Ward and Holy Cross?