April 10 board meeting minutes

CRNA Board Meeting – Minutes
April 10, 2008

Attending–Board: Marilyn Barbera, Pax Bobrow, Betty DiMarco, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Alice-Anne Krishnan, Julianna Padgett, Jerry Speir, Jim Stratton, Betsy Weymann (via proxy Tom Weymann)

Absent Board Members: Kevin Brown, Gordon Cagnolatti, Rodney Dionisio, Todd Leavitt, Judy Miranti, Gary Smith, Amanda Smithson, Llewelyn Soniat, Evan Wolf

Residents/Guests: Bob Bermudez, Jason Coleman, Oliver Duvernay, Helen Jones, Joseph Kane, Amy Lake, Cindy Morse
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Treasurer’s Report Outgoing Treasurer Cindy Morse reported a checking account balance of $1965.

BZA Appeal—Cindy also reported on a lawsuit being prepared on behalf of the immediate neighbors in the 8600 block of Zimpel St. to appeal a ruling by the Board of Zoning Adjustments that granted certain variances for the construction of two houses larger than allowed by the zoning rules in that block. With the understanding that the neighbors pursuing the suit will bear all legal costs, Pax Bobrow moved, seconded by Rudolf Garrison, that CRNA join the suit as a co-plaintiff. The motion passed unanimously.

Announcements: Jerry welcomed new board members Pax Bobrow, Tilman Hardy, Alice-Anne Krishnan, Gary Smith, and Betsy Weymann to the board.
He also reminded the group of the Town Hall Meeting with Senator Cheryl Gray—next Monday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s church (Willow & Carrollton). The primary topic of discussion will be the proposed security/improvement districts.

Education: Pax Bobrow reported on behalf of the Education Committee that Priestley School is still struggling to find a building for next year. Priestley’s Board President, Chris D’Amour is meeting soon with a group of national builders concerning possible financial and other assistance in renovating the old Priestley building on Leonidas.
A “volunteer work day” has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning, April 19, at Johnson Elementary School. A major part of the work that needs to be done is assembling several large sets of metal shelves donated by Lowe’s (at Pax’s urging) — and moving (and organizing) a large quantity of school materials from boxes to those shelves.

Zoning: Marshall Hevron, Zoning chair, reported that the “height moratorium” for the neighborhood is still being pursued.
Jerry reminded the group of the previous report of remarks by John Marshall (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, NORA) and Jeff Thomas (Office of Recovery and Development Administration, ORDA) to the Carrollton Area Network group. The report (available on request) noted several new developments re: making information on blighted housing and code enforcement information more accessible and moving more properties through the code enforcement process.
Alice-Anne Krishnan expressed some concern, based on her experience with similar issues in Mid-City, especially about the notion of a “code enforcement sweep” of Willow Street, as mentioned in that report by Mr. Thomas of ORDA. She noted that such sweeps can create inordinate complications for individual property owners, especially where the “burden of proof” has been shifted, as it has in a new ordinance on this subject, to the property owner—to prove that his/her property does not deserve the sanctions imposed by the “code sweep.” Her basic point was that we, the neighborhood, should drive the code enforcement process in our area. Toward that end, the board decided to create a committee to look at blighted housing issues in the neighborhood and to begin a process of inventorying problem properties. Volunteers for the committee were: Alice-Anne Krishnan, Pax Bobrow, Jason Coleman, Rudolf Garrison, Helen Jones, and Michele Pope. Others wishing to be involved in this activity should contact Alice-Anne at tarpsnola@yahoo.com
Jerry noted that it would be appropriate to invite Mr. Marshall and Mr. Thomas to address a future CRNA meeting.

Crime/Safety: Betty DiMarco reported on a meeting with consultants (a former NOPD deputy chief, a former director of mental health services, and a doctor with extensive experience dealing with persons in the criminal justice system). They argue that the neighborhood association should pressure the legislature to fully fund drug testing for all probationers and parolees—on a theory that drug-testing greatly increases the likelihood that a probationer/parolee is much more likely to successfully complete his/her probation or parole without being re-arrested. They are looking for a neighborhood with which to collaborate, to demonstrate that the theory will work in New Orleans the way it has worked elsewhere.
Some discussion followed on all the socio-economic contributions to the crime problem. Some skepticism was expressed as to whether drug-testing alone would really generate long-term solutions. It was generally agreed that we should invite the presenters to a future board meeting, so that they can address the group.
Julianna reported briefly on a WhistleStop program that has been effective in Chicago and elsewhere. It involves the distribution of whistles throughout the neighborhood, to be used to alert neighbors to any sort of crime problem. See http://www.hydepark.org/hpkcc/whistlestop.htm She noted that it might be something for an Improvement District to consider.

Quality of Life: Jerry called the group’s attention to a press release from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (forwarded by the Alliance for Affordable Energy, through Julianna) concerning the possible shipment of nuclear waste from Italy through New Orleans (and Charleston, SC) for “incineration and smelting” at a facility in Tennessee, and disposal of the residue in Utah—unless it fails to meet disposal criteria and must be shipped back to Italy, through New Orleans and Charleston.
It was noted that much of the cargo that goes in-and-out of the Port of New Orleans overland is transported on the N.O. Public Belt Railway, right along the boundary of our neighborhood. The project is currently seeking licensing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Julianna moved, and Betty seconded, that CRNA oppose the proposal and right a letter making our position known to appropriate authorities. The motion passed unanimously.

Security/Improvement Districts: Jerry reported on several recent meetings and discussions regarding the evolution of thinking on the issue of security/improvement districts. After much discussion, Jim Stratton moved, seconded by Marilyn Barbera, that CRNA support a single Improvement District, with the same boundaries as CRNA. The motion passed unanimously.
After further discussion, the group agreed by consensus that the governance of such an Improvement District should be shared in the following manner: 3 representatives from CRNA, 3 from the Palmer Park Neighborhood Association, 3 from the Pensiontown Neighborhood Association, 1 from the Oak Street Association, and 1 from the Riverbend Merchants Association—plus the four appointees by elected officials. This would create a governing board of 15 members.
The group also agreed by consensus that the name of the district should be the “West Carrollton Improvement District”—for simplicity and to avoid any appearance of bias toward a particular organization.
Considerable time was spent discussing methods to insure that the four appointees by elected officials do not come solely from one of the participating organizations.
Points made during the discussion included:
–a “needs assessment” should be a first priority of the district
–an important, and relatively inexpensive, community-building activity of the district would be its ability to provide regular, mailed information to every household in the district about neighborhood meetings and concerns
–some are particularly skeptical of the “security” aspects of such a district, believing that “more bang for the buck” could be achieved by programs addressing children’s needs, schools’ needs, blighted housing, and the like.
–$240/year may be too large an initial “bite” to initiate all in one year. Perhaps it should be phased in over time. This is the responsibility and prerogative of the governing board—to establish the annual fee within the “cap” established by the legislation.

Next Meeting: Because of the late hour, no specific date was set for our next meeting. Meeting date, time, and place will be worked out on e-mail.

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