The New Orleans City Council is hiring its own consulting group to help neighborhoods rebuild.
The council announced Friday that Paul Lambert and Shelia Danzey, its housing and neighborhood planning consultants, have begun working with neighborhoods that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"Our goal is to respect the planning that has already gone on in the city and engage in recovery planning for the 49 neighborhoods that flooded," Lambert said.
"Our firms will serve as technical consultants to the neighborhood residents, building consensus from the ground up, in order to design true neighborhood plans," Danzey said.
The council passed a motion in December to engage Lambert and Danzey for these services, and it voted recently to spend nearly $3 million in Community Development Block Grant money on the process.
"We are going to insure that the city has a coordinated and community-supported plan to submit to Baton Rouge and Washington for funding," Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt said.
This is something that should have been set in motion long ago. But although the scope of devestation is immense, so is the size of the team.
Working with Lambert and Danzey will be Miami architects and planners Alfredo Sanchez and Deborah Tackett, of Bermello-Ajamil & Partners, and New Orleans architect Lonnie Hewitt.
Sanchez led a neighborhood recovery planning effort for Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Andrew. Hewitt is the lead architect on the Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods neighborhood planning process that began in December.
Other local architects and planners working with the group include Clifton James, Gerald Billes, Byron Stewart, James Washington, Joseph St. Martin, Deron Brown and James Baker. Also on the local team are consultants Silas Lee, who will conduct resident research and surveys; Greg Rigamer, who will provide data, mapping and geographic information systems analysis; and planner Steve Villavaso.
Also involved are Boston designer and planner M. David Lee, a professor of architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; and city planners Bernardo Zyscovich and Suria Yaffar of Zyscovich Inc. of New York and Miami. Zyscovich Inc. has developed master plans for many cities.
If there is one thing that I know about architects, is that they have egos. And with so many chefs stiring the pot, the kitchen is sure to get hot.