A bit of news from your neighborhood association

CRRA President Jerry Speir writes (on 9/22),

Friends and neighbors:

OAK STREET – As many of you know, there have been plans to “re-do” Oak Street for years. It’s finally about to happen. This will be a total renovation: water lines, sewer lines, storm drains, and then a new street and sidewalks. We expect the work to start in the first half of 2008, some time after Mardi Gras. Obviously, this will be a major disruption to traffic and immediate neighbors, but most importantly to the merchants on the street.

Details will be discussed at a meeting next Thursday, September 27, 6:30 – 9:00, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School Auditorium, corner of Cambronne and Freret. A panel discussion is scheduled to start at 7:00, featuring Councilwoman Midura, the director of Public Works, representatives of the Mayor’s office and the project director. This is your opportunity to get information and provide your input to the project. The meeting is being organized by the Oak Street Association. You can submit questions in advance for the panel at oakstreetnola@bellsouth.net (all questions will be screened to expedite the meeting).

For more information, see the OSA website at www.onlyonoak.com We hope to minimize impacts on residents and businesses alike to the extent possible. Total construction time is expected to be 9-12 months. Some of the overhead wires will be eliminated, but not all. [Full disclosure: I am a board member of the Oak Street Association – Jerry]

CRIME: I continue to hear unsettling reports of crime in the neighborhood. Just today, I’ve heard two disturbing reports: Rev. Garrison tells me that a woman was robbed at gunpoint last night (Friday) in the 1200 block of Cambronne, by a medium-height and -build black male of light complexion riding a bicycle. Annette Bak reports an armed robbery by a “young kid” (pedestrian) of a woman as she was leaving the Ninja restaurant in the 1100 block of Joliet on Thursday evening. Both of these are said to have happened in the 8-9 p.m. time frame. I’ve not yet had any communication from the police about these.

Last week, about 10:30 p.m., in the1100 block of Cambronne, a woman had a young man follow her into her driveway as she was coming home for the evening. As she got out of the car, he struck her and demanded her keys. She resisted, a scuffle ensued, neighbors showed up, and the man ran away. A few evenings ago, a woman was robbed of a gym bag on Oak Street about 6 p.m. by a young man who approached her from behind and claimed to have a gun. There have been numerous reports of gunfire in the neighborhood.

Our new police captain in the Second District sends “e-mail blasts,” as he calls them, to neighborhood association presidents when there are “persons crimes” (as opposed to property crimes) in the neighborhood. We post these on our website https://crra.wordpress.com Crime data can also be accessed on the nopd.com website. We’re still working to improve the timeliness of that data. There will be another meeting of our inter-neighborhood group on crime issues on Thursday, October 4, 7:00p.m. at St. Matthew’s Church on Carrollton. These are not general neighborhood informational meetings but working/planning meetings. But anyone who is interested in being involved is welcome to attend. If you or a neighbor are the victim of a crime, please report it to the police, so that we (and they) have a complete picture of crime in the neighborhood. Also, if you would, report it to me. I’d like to be able to check our data against the official data and see if there are any discrepancies.

LOST AND FOUND – Cindy Morse reports that she has wound up with “3 big beautiful umbrellas” that were left at our August 18 picnic: one is black with “All the Kings Men” in red, one is green and white with “Property of Wayzata Country Club” on it, the third blue and white. If you recognize any of these as yours, you can reach Cindy at cmorse7@cox.net or 866-2410.

GROCERY STORE: There has been much concern that the promised grocery store (Robert’s Market) at Carrollton and Claiborne has not been started. There was a bit of a scare last week when we learned that the Gulf Opportunity Zone (“GO Zone”) funding that is critical to the project might not be approved. We have now learned that the project has, in fact, cleared a major hurdle (a committee approval) this week and only has one more hurdle (relatively minor, we hope) at the state level and the governor’s signature in its path before construction can begin. It is expected that these last impediments will be cleared up within the next 2-3 weeks. Mr. Robert promises to start driving pilings within a week of final approval. Councilwoman Midura is credited with helping to move the process past these recent hurdles.

SCHOOLS: We had another scare last week when it was reported that the School Board had put the Priestley School building on Leonidas on the “surplus property” list and that it might be sold. There are plans, of course, to renovate that building (assuming funding can be found)—as a major revitalization project for that part of the neighborhood–for the new Priestley Charter School of Architecture and Construction. The school is presently housed temporarily at St. Henry’s near Magazine and Napoleon (and doing quite well, with more than double the students it had last year), but it hopes to be able to move into at least temporary buildings at the Leonidas site within a year. School Board member Una Anderson is credited with forstalling the listing of the property for sale. In other schools news, two of our board members, Kevin Brown and Cindy Morse, have been invited to be part of the Leadership Team at Johnson School. We are still seeking funding, through Kevin’s excellent work, to help improve parental involvement and neighborhood involvement at the school.

ZONING: Our board has dealt with two zoning related issues recently. First, the board voted to condone a beer and wine license for the Jazmine Café in the 600 block of S. Carrollton, on condition that the Café owners enter into a contractual agreement with us limiting alcohol service to dining customers, limiting operating hours, prohibiting video poker, and the like. Second, the board voted to oppose a change in the non-conforming use of the property at S. Carrollton and Cohn, where a coffee shop was proposed. The board agreed with the staff report of the City Planning Commission that the coffee shop would be a more intensive use of the property, increasing parking and other impacts on the immediate neighborhood.

COUNCIL FORUM: There will be a forum for all candidates for the vacant council-at-large seat on Thursday evening, October 4, at 7:00 in Nunemaker Hall at Loyola. CRRA is one of many associations sponsoring the event. Nunemaker is a bit hard to find. It’s a third floor auditorium in Monroe Hall, the most modern-looking of the buildings on the Loyola campus; one side of Monroe is on Calhoun St, behind the Roussel Hall complex at the corner of St. Charles and Calhoun.

VOLUNTEERS: There are lots of ways you can help out with the association’s work. We need individuals to help out with distributing flyers occasionally so that we can reach out to the full neighborhood, not just to those for whom I have e-mail addresses. Seriously, can you help? We need a volunteer to attend the monthly meetings with the police department and bring back the news. And we are always looking for more people to be involved in our basic committee work: Zoning/Planning/Land Use, Quality of Life (with an Education sub-committee), Crime/Security, and Events. I’d be happy to put you in touch with the committee of your choice.

DUES—There, I’ve said it again. Our board has decided that we want to be as inclusive as possible and has, therefore, made dues voluntary. That said, the organization can’t operate without funding. We have established recommended dues as follows:

$10 – individual
$25 – family/household
$50 – supporting
$100 – sustaining

THANKS to those who’ve contributed since the last letter. Dues can be sent to our Treasurer, Cindy Morse, at 8601 Zimpel, NOLA 70118.

NEXT BOARD MEETING: Our next Board meeting will be Monday, October 8, at 7:30, in the back dining room of Asian Cajun on Oak Street. Our meetings are open. We hope to have the principal of Johnson School join us. And there is always lots of interesting stuff to talk about.

OUR WEBSITE: https://crra.wordpress.com

Jerry Speir, President
Carrollton Riverbend Residents Association