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Upscale wine bar proposed for Oak Street

The long vacant and deteriorating building at 8118 Oak could be the site of an upscale wine bar if the developer can obtain all necessary approvals. At an on-site meeting last night the preliminary plans were presented to a crowd of about 100 nearby neighbors, Oak Street merchants and other interested parties.

The plans call for about 85 seats, live music (jazz combo scale), a large selection of wines, plus beer and spirits, food service, sound proofing and upscale finishings and fixtures. There is also room for 6 or so parking spaces in the rear of the property.

There is the fact that a moratorium on alcoholic beverage outlets, including bars, has been in effect for the area since April. The developer must obtain a waiver from the city council in order to open the wine bar. She is cooperating with the neighborhood in order to explain the nature of her business, respond to concerns and gain support for such a waiver. That was the main reason for the meeting last night.

Judging by comments made during and after the meeting those in attendance generally approved of the plans. Local merchants were enthusiastic about the possibility of having more early evening traffic on the street. Several said they would stay open later if the wine bar brought more customers onto Oak Street after 5:00.

Opposition seemed to center around two issues:

  • First, some fear that bars tend to attract trouble, including litter, loitering, vandalism and so on. We certainly see this with certain bars and ABOs in our area now, including the Frat House and small stores at Dante and Willow and Oak and Leonidas that sell take-away alcohol.  The developer countered that the upscale nature of the proposed business, and a “no one under 21” admission policy, will attract a much different clientele, with the target market being middle-aged folks looking for a sophisticated place Uptown for a drink, conversation and some music.
  • Second, there is a concern about the potential that allowing such a bar might create for a wave of other bar applications on Oak and for how that could impact the future of the street generally.  At bottom, all such applications are subject to approval by the City Council and we have only our civic activism to rely on to influence those political decisions.

Another meeting is planned soon and the time and place will be publicized in advance through this site and emails.

Monthly Meeting Minutes – July 2009

CRNA Monthly Meeting – Minutes

July 11, 2009 

Attending—Board:  Pax Bobrow,  Gordon Cagnolatti,  Betty DiMarco , Marilyn Barbera, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Julianna Padgett, Gary Smith, Amanda Smithson, Jerry Speir, and Jim Stratton.  Absent Board Members:  Kevin Brown, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Llewelyn Soniat,  and Betsy Weymann.                                   

Residents/Guests:  Brenda Floyd, Camilla Franklin, Celia Griffin, Marilyn Kearney, Anne Nicolay, Robbie Robertson, Ian Smithson, Sabine Teijelo

Marilyn Kearney, Director of the Oak Street Main Street project, is surveying the neighborhood for its perceptions of the Main Street program.  She asks that everyone take a few moments to send her an e-mail answering the question:  “How are we doing?”  She is happy to have critiques and suggestions for the future.  The program presently operates through four committees:  Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Development.    Marilyn can be reached at oakstreetnola@bellsouth.net

Gordon Cagnolatti reported on preparations for the annual Night Out Against Crime.  The date this year is Tuesday, August 4.  He is still looking for an indoor “rain location,” just in case.  It was suggested that it might be possible to close off a block of Oak Street for the primary location.  Other suggestions included:  coordinating with the Carrollton Area Network (through H.V. Nagendra), and inviting Oak Street food vendors to sell food at the event.  Amanda Smithson and Camilla Franklin offered to help with arrangements for the event; Camilla may be able to help arrange for a local band.

Pax Bobrow reported on an opportunity from the Capacity College (presented by the Neighborhood Partnership Network), which several of our members attended.  An LSU sociology professor has offered to do a free survey of our neighborhood.  The survey has a fixed format, aligned with the professor’s research, but could still produce useful information on individual circumstances and perceptions.  Julianna Padgett offered to review the survey instrument prior to our becoming involved.  On a motion by Amanda Smithson, seconded by Jim Stratton, the group unanimously approved participation in the survey, pending Julianna’s review.  Pax will coordinate with the LSU professor.

Camilla Franklin reported on another opportunity from Capacity College:  partnering with the Regional Planning Commission to improve our data collection about the neighborhood.  This effort could include helping us to use Google Earth maps to assess conditions in the neighborhood, creating spreadsheets that would be useful for accumulating neighborhood data, mapping blighted property, etc.  Camilla and Pax will follow-up on this opportunity. 

Yet another idea from the Capacity College experience was the creation of a community garden on the grounds of the former Priestley School on Leonidas. School Board member Woody Koppel mentioned that this might be a possibility in his recent appearance at our monthly meeting.  

Marilyn Barbera reported on efforts to enhance and maintain Dublin Park, behind the Riverbend strip mall.  Richard Mathis has financed much of the work on the park in recent years, though Parks and Parkways is now cutting the grass again.  There are still expenses for the mulching and watering of trees that have recently been planted by volunteers.  On motion by Amanda, seconded by Marilyn, the group unanimously approved contributing $100 toward those expenses. 

Betty DiMarco reported on Rev. Stanford Williams project to provide free school supplies for children in the neighborhood.  Donations of supplies (backpacks, paper, pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks, folders, crayons, etc.) are needed.  Marilyn Kearney offered her Main Street office, 8118 Oak,  as a collection point for donated supplies.  If she’s not in, check with Norma at the Queen of the Ball next door.  Donations must be received no later than Friday, August 7.  Supplies will be disbursed on Saturday, August 8. 

Leonidas House:  The fundraiser previously announced for July 25th is being re-scheduled, most likely to August 30, to allow for the inclusion of more local designers and entertainers.  Tickets may be purchased via PayPal and/or you can contact Tilman Hardy at tilmanhardy@kw.com for more information. 

Jerry Speir reported that Katie Winters, who previously proposed the “high end wine bar” at the former White Pillars Emporium location, is now proposing the same project for 8118 Oak Street, the building  that was previously Driscoll’s Antiques (before they moved down the street) and that is presently being used by a rug dealer (with a small portion of the space devoted to the Oak Street Main Street office). 

Jerry reported that, to his knowledge, Ms. Winters is committed to making her application to the City Planning Commission (CPC) for the necessary approvals on July 20.  She will provide us with those documents at the same time.  The earliest that her proposal would be heard by the Commission is August 25.  A City Council hearing would be at least three weeks after the CPC hearing.  

Ms. Winters is proposing to use approximately 3000 square feet of the ground floor of the building for the project.  She expects to be able to provide enough parking spaces in the rear of the building of avoid any need for a parking variance.  She is willing to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement with us saying that neither her liquor license nor her conditional use permit would transfer to a subsequent owner/operator.  She wants to be able to have music at the wine bar, saying that she wants music more in the jazz combo style than a rock band.  She promises to insulate the building such that any music or other noise would not be heard in the neighborhood.  And she professes a willingness to work with the neighborhood on other issues of importance. 

After considerable discussion, concerning appropriate procedures both for dealing with the board’s taking a position on the issue and our interaction with our members and the most affected neighbors, the group agreed to following general process: 

–the CPC application documents provided by Ms. Winters will be circulated to the general CRNA membership when they become available.

–we will have an initial meeting with Ms. Winters, the board, and the most affected neighbors during the week of July 27, at 8118 Oak, the proposed site. A specific date is to be determined, based on Ms. Winters’ availability.

–a second meeting may be necessary the following week.

–prior to the July 27 meeting, we will place flyers announcing the meeting on every house within a two block radius (Dante to Carrollton and Willow to Freret were suggested as boundaries for that process).

–we will have a general meeting to which all are invited, for the purpose final discussion of the project, on Thursday, August 13, the regularly scheduled date for our next board meeting.

–the board will meet at a subsequent date to vote on the project (and/or will vote via e-mail) . 

Amanda, Pax, Julianna, Camilla, Ian and Marilyn all offered to help with getting the word out.  Camilla will ensure that flyers are produced and distributed. Amanda will send out the CPC documents via e-mail.

June monthly meeting minutes

CRNA Monthly Meeting – Minutes

June 11, 2009 

Attending—Board:  Marilyn Barbera, Kevin Brown, Julianna Padgett, Gary Smith, and Jerry Speir

Absent Board Members:  Pax Bobrow,  Betty DiMarco, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Gordon Cagnolatti, Marshall Hevron, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Amanda Smithson, Llewelyn Soniat,  Jim Stratton, and Betsy Weymann                 

Residents/Guests:  Lyn Adams, Marilyn Kearney, Elaine Leyda, Mary Martin, Phil Martin, Cindy Morse, and Anne Nicolay 

 

Marilyn Kearney, Director of the Oak Street Main Street project, reported on the status of the Oak Street renovation and answered questions from the group about the street’s future.  The renovation work has been temporarily halted by the Corps of Engineers because of the high level of the river.  Work is expected to re-start within the next week. 

Questions about the street’s future included:  Will the street be one-way?  Will there be meters?  What about the traffic problems in front of Jacque-imo’s and the Maple Leaf in the evenings?  How might we recruit “good businesses” to the many vacancies on the street?  Would it be reasonable to make part of the street a “pedestrial mall” in the evenings?  How can we encourage more residential occupancy in the upstairs spaces on the street?  What about a streetcar spur down Oak Street? 

Clearly, the renovation of the street has focused our concerns on the street in new ways and there is an opportunity for new neighborhood cooperation on issues surrounding the street. In the course of the discussion, it was decided that it would be appropriate to hold a separate meeting, with representation from both CRNA and the Oak Street Association to consider all issues pertaining to the street. 

Marilyn Kearney agreed to help organize the first meeting of such a group.  Of those present at the meeting, Ann Nicolay, Phil Martin, Cindy Morse, Marilyn Barbera, Gary Smith and Bob Bermudez volunteered to take part.  The meeting will be open to anyone who is interested.

 

Elaine Leyda spoke about efforts that she is organizing to clean-up (and save) the Nix Library.  Nix is scheduled for closure under the Library’s Master Plan.  Saturday morning at 8:30 there will be a clean-up at Nix.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring perhaps buckets and scrub brushes for cleaning on the building itself and trashbags, rakes and brooms for cleaning the grounds and sidewalks.  A later phase will involve some landscaping and tree planting. Efforts are also under way to try to get the library open on Saturday—and ultimately to get it back into the Library’s long-range vision for our neighborhood.  Elaine can be contacted at littlenixlibrary@gmail.com

 

Marilyn Barbera reported on the Capacity College, organized by the Neighborhood Partnership Network,  that several CRNA members attended since our last meeting .  The group chose to work on urban gardening and is working toward refining a project.  Elaine Leyda also reported that one of the lessons from the Capacity College was the need for surveying our organization’s membership—for doing a “needs assessment”—to help define our own future.  Some preliminary discussion of such a survey has begun.  Anyone with experience and/or interest in such a project should please contact Jerry Speir at jerryspeir@hotmail.com

 

Jim Stratton was complemented for organizing our association’s participation in the Preservation Resource Center’s Neighborhood Sellabration event, which featured available properties in our neighborhood for prospective buyers.  Thank you, Jim

 

Jerry Speir gave a brief update on the neighborhood land-use planning process that has been led by the Carrollton-Audubon Renaissance, Inc. (CARI) group.  The latest version of the land-use map and a report on its development should be on the organization’s website soon http://www.carrollton-audubon.org/

 

Gary Smith reported on the code enforcement hearing re: the house at Dante and Zimpel.  The owner was fined $500 plus $75 in court costs and given 30 days to clean up the property and secure it.  Failing that, the fines will be $500 a day to a maximum of $15,000.  Thanks to all who attended that hearing.

May monthly meeting minutes

CRNA Monthly Meeting – Minutes

May 14, 2009

 Attending—Board:  Marilyn Barbera, Pax Bobrow,  Betty DiMarco, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Gary Smith, Jerry Speir, and Betsy Weymann

Absent Board Members:  Kevin Brown, Gordon Cagnolatti, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Julianna Padgett, Amanda Smithson, Llewelyn Soniat, and Jim Stratton                                   

Residents/Guests:  Brian Adams, Buddy Adams, Jeff Baker, Cara Beal, Larel Brashears, Joseph Cerise, Kevin Delaney, Lee Downs, Ralph Driscoll, Mary DeWitt Dukes, Rick Fifield, Amberly Fox, Kristy Gonzales, Kawann Harris, Cecilia Holzenthal, Danny Keiffer, Joseph Kane, Amelia Leonardi, Jacques Leonardi, Danny Martin, Phil McLeod, Cindy Morse, Marilyn Neumann, Stephen Novak, Charlene Quinlan, Tommy Quinlan, Kevin Rung, Flo Snow, Jill Stephens, Joseph Voltz, Charlene Walvoord, Katie Winters, Patrick Winters

 

——————————————

 

The majority of the meeting was taken up with a consideration of a proposed wine bar at the corner of Oak and Dante, in the space most recently occupied by the White Pillars Emporium.  

The developer, Katie Winters, her partner and architect, attended to answer questions. 

Jerry Speir explained that the meeting was prompted by the existence of a moratorium on new alcohol licenses in Carrollton, which was passed by the City Council at the urging of neighborhood associations—led by the Maple Area Residents, Inc (MARI) organization.  CRNA supported the moratorium.  The political/legal consequence of the moratorium is that an applicant for a new license must appeal the moratorium, which requires action by the City Council—and our present Councilwoman seeks the input of the neighborhood association on these issues.  The moratorium has a term of one year, with the possibility of extension for a second year at the Council’s discretion. 

Because she is still in the phase of negotiating the purchase of the property, Ms. Winters has not gotten to the point of creating drawings for the property or of negotiating with the city about parking details and the like.  But she offered the following information: 

The building, as is, occupies 12,000 square feet of space.  Some of that is in a shed at the rear of the building that she expects to tear down, because it does not conform to building codes.  Some of the space is in essentially un-useable, low-ceilinged upstairs areas.  Some would be rented out to a tenant.  (As you face the building, there are three sections; the right-hand, upriver third would be partitioned off and rented.  The yoga studio already on Oak has expressed interest because their present space is too small.)  Some of the building, in the area of the attached warehouse/garage would be converted to off-street parking—the precise number of spaces and the traffic flow in-and-out to be determined. 

That would leave a projected 1800-2000 square feet for the wine bar and amenities, plus an outdoor patio on Oak that she expects to be about 1000 square feet. 

She seeks to attract an upscale clientele, anticipates opening at 4 p.m., and contemplates closing at 2 a.m., at least on weekends. The establishment would have a limited food menu—which she described as “girly food”—tapas, salads, cheeses, etc.  She would like to have music, of a piano bar sort, and expressed a willingness to limit the hours of such entertainment.  

She believes that she can provide sufficient parking on-site so that the project will not need a parking variance from the city.  

She expects to comply with historic restoration guidelines, re: the façade of the building, sufficient to qualify for state tax credits. 

Questions raised included: 

–Given the size of the property, how can we be sure the bar won’t expand over time?

–If the business does not succeed, what might the property become under a future owner?

–How will garbage be handled?

–How will deliveries be handled?

–Would she consider opening another type of business in the space?

–Would she expect to put tables on the sidewalk?

–What experience does she have running such a business?  What evidence does she have that it will succeed?

–Who will operate/manage the business? 

She expressed a willingness to sign an agreement with CRNA, similar to those that we have signed with Saltwater Grill and the Jazmine Café (which would be filed in the public conveyance records and give CRNA a right to sue for enforcement) that could address limitations on such things as space devoted to the bar, garbage, deliveries, and sidewalk tables—in addition to such issues as noise, parking, hours of operation, video poker (which she does not seek), signage, and the like.  The agreement would also state that the alcohol license and exemption from the current moratorium on liquor licenses would not transfer with the property, should she decide to sell it. 

She has no interest in pursuing a different type of business at the location.  She believes that the business will succeed based on the success of similar establishments (the Delachaise on St. Charles and Cure on Freret were mentioned)—and based on the fact that she and her partners expect to be able to start up the business without a substantial debt load.  She would be the managing partner, though an on-site manager would be hired.  She noted that, though she has not operated a business of this sort, she has managed several real estate renovations—houses and a commercial building in the French Quarter—and she directed attendees to New Orleans Magazine for a feature on one of her houses as an example of the quality she expects to put into the building.  She is also a successful attorney with a major local law firm. 

As to the scenario of the business failing and a different bar (or other operation) succeeding it, it was noted that the agreements that CRNA has with Saltwater Grill and Jazmine Café are significantly different.  Those agreements are about trying to ensure that restaurants do not become bars and, because of the different zoning in the Riverbend, there is a “conditional use” at issue in those locations, which provides additional leverage for the neighborhood association.

 But it was also noted that, once the moratorium on new alcohol licenses expires, the neighborhood association will have no input at all on the alcohol license issue or on what sort of other business might occupy the space (unless there is a parking variance issue). Some observed that, in the present instance, we at least have a developer who is cooperative. 

Ms. Winters promised to get back to us with further details as soon as her arrangements for acquiring the property are finalized. 

In other matters:  Cindy Morse announced that Johnson Elementary School is planning a Water Quality Exhibit Day involving 4thgraders.  Time, place and details to follow. 

Frat House bar—Several neighbors who live in proximity to the Frat House bar at Willow and Dublin expressed serious concerns about numerous incidents involving noise, vandalism and other inappropriate late-night behavior in the vicinity of the bar.  It was recommended that a group of neighbors meet with the bar owner to discuss the issues, and such a meeting is being organized.

CRNA Board Meeting – Minutes Feb. 12, 2009

Attending—Board: Marilyn Barbera, Pax Bobrow, Kevin Brown, Betty DiMarco, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Julianna Padgett, Jerry Speir, and Jim Stratton,

Absent Board Members: Gordon Cagnolatti, Rodney Dionisio, Rudolf Garrison, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Amanda Smithson, Gary Smith, Llewelyn Soniat, and Betsy Weymann

Residents/Guests: Annettte Bak, Camilla Franklin

Crime—Jennifer Jenkins reported a car-jacking in the 8500 block of Freret at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11. [A subsequent e-mail from NOPD reported an arrest in the matter, and the recovery of both the vehicle and the weapon used.] The CRNA Crime Committee will continue to hold “porch parties” as the primary get-togethers within our CRNA boundaries, but is also hosting meetings with representatives of the Crime Committees of other associations within the Carrollton Area Network for the purpose of coordinating our various efforts to combat crime. The focus of the moment is on improving the information that we get from NOPD.

Planning for a General Meeting and Election of Officers—Julianna Padgett, Betty DiMarco and Jerry Speir agreed to serve as a Nominating Committee.

Leonidas House—The “work day” on the previous Saturday drew 20+ people and accomplished quite a bit. A second work day is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21. The State Historic Preservation Office has provided some very nice renderings of a possible renovation of the building. A Community Advisory Group is being formed. Leonidas House meetings are on the 2d Tuesday of each month at 5:30 at the Keller-Williams offices, 8601 Leake. Persons wishing to be involved should come to the meeting and/or contact Tilman Hardy (tilmanhardy@kw.com) or Annette Bak (annettebak@chevron.com) directly.

Schools—Annette Bak reported that a recent Literacy Fair at Johnson School was very successful. Kevin Brown noted that a clean-up at the school, by AmeriCorps volunteers, in conjunction with Martin Luther King Day was also very successful. Jerry Speir reported on a recent conversation with School Board President Woody Koppel re: the Priestley school building. It was agreed that further conversations should be initiated to bring Mr. Koppel and other school system personnel up to speed on the potential for renovating the existing building, rather than demolishing it. (Annette Bak and Tilman Hardy expressed an interest in such further discussions and suggested that Jean Fischer and Mary Green should be included. There was also discussion of the broader need in the area for a discussion about schools in the Greater Carrollton area and how future plans relate to each.

Citizen Participation Program—There will be a breakfast meeting on Saturday, Feb. 28 [place/time] to discuss the latest developments with the CPP.

Newsletter—Pax Bobrow is willing to put together another edition of the newsletter—IF others will do the initial writing. She will edit, produce and distribute the newsletter, but needs articles. Anyone with anything to contribute should contact Pax directly at paxbobrow@yahoo.com

Oak Street—The actual street work on Oak is scheduled to start on the Monday after Mardi Gras. The work will be done in two-block sections, starting at Carrollton. If all goes according to plan, the work should be completed by November 1.

Carrollton Audubon Renaissance, Inc. (CARI)—Jerry Speir reported that the four public meetings for public input into CARI’s neighborhood planning process have been well-attended and have generated lots of ideas for the planners to sort through as they develop a draft land-use plan for the area. That draft will then be open for further public review before being finalized.
The planning discussion led to reflections on past efforts to establish a local historic district in the area. Jerry Speir volunteered to attempt to sort out the hold-up in that process.
Tilman Hardy suggested that we need our own planning committee to deal with green space issues as they relate to zoning. Pax Bobrow, Jim Stratton, and Camilla Franklin volunteered to help with such an effort.

There was general discussion of the value of having a joint meeting of the boards of all the associations that operate within CRNA boundaries. The idea was generally supported, with the caveat that some work toward planning an agenda should precede such a meeting.

NEXT CRNA Board Meeting: Thursday, March 12 at the Keller-Willliams offices, 7 p.m.

Board meeting minutes – Dec 12, 2008

CRNA Board Meeting – Minutes
December 12, 2008

Attending—Board:  Pax Bobrow,  Betty DiMarco, Tilman Hardy, Julianna Padgett, Amanda Smithson, Jerry Speir and Jim Stratton

Absent Board Members:  Marilyn Barbera , Kevin Brown, Gordon Cagnolatti, Rodney Dionisio, Rudolf Garrison, Marshall Hevron, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Gary Smith,  Llewelyn Soniat, Betsy Weymann

Residents/Guests:  Cindy Morse

Cindy Morse reported several new members as a result of our most recent newsletter—and numerous compliments on the membership forms about how much people appreciated the newsletter.  Kudos to Pax Bobrow who created it, sold the ads, and got it printed and distributed (with help from lots of folks on that last task).

Betty DiMarco reported on a recent “Restorative Listening Circle” meeting that she hosted, attended by several board members.  This is a community-building process designed to build new relationships and levels of trust within our community.  Betty, Julianna Padgett and Tilman Hardy will provide recommendations for future such meetings and guidance on these issues.

Tilman reported that the Leonidas House group is developing an “action plan” and seeking community input on specifics of the program that is expected to provide after-school and summer opportunities for neighborhood youth in the elementary and middle-school years, initially, with later expansion to high-schoolers.  The group is meeting on “second Tuesdays.”  The next meeting will be Tuesday, January 13, at 5:30, at Keller-Williams, 8601 Leonidas.

The Crime Committee recently met with Karen Celestan, Manager of Community Relations and Policy in Tulane University’s Office of Government Affairs.  Among other initiatives, Tulane has recently written letters to the Frat House, among others, about under-age and binge drinking problems, and promises to involve the state alcohol control board as necessary to address the problem.  Residents who have clear evidence of Tulane students involved in drug activities are encouraged to contact Danny Lawless with the Tulane University Police Department at dlawless@tulane.edu  Mary Dukes has been leading crime education efforts, including at a table at the recent Po-Boy Festival.  The committee’s next meeting will be January 14; contact chair Alice-Anne Krishnan for details at tarpsnola@yahoo.com  The group also continues to develop a relationship with NOPD and our new Second District commander, Major Little.

Julianna, Betty and Tilman reported on a recent meeting that they attended concerning the possibility of developing an Office of Neighborhoods within City Hall.  A document is expected soon detailing the questions, concerns and recommendations concerning such an office.

Jerry reported that the new Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance process continues apace, with some initial drafts of what will actually be proposed expected within the next few months.  He also reported that the Carrollton-Audubon Renaissance, Inc. (CARI) process to generate a land-use plan specific to Carrollton is close to finishing its initial data-gathering phase and CARI expects to host a series of meetings in the next few months for community input into that plan, which will then be incorporated into the citywide process.

Next board meeting:  Thursday, January 8, 7:00 p.m.,  Keller-Williams, 9601 Leonidas

September board meeting minutes

CRNA Board Meeting – Minutes
September 11, 2008

Attending–Board:   Pax Bobrow, Rodney Dionisio, Todd Leavitt, Julianna Padgett, Gary Smith, Amanda Smithson, Jerry Speir

Absent Board Members:  Marilyn Barbera, Kevin Brown, Gordon Cagnolatti, Betty DiMarco, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Judith Miranti, Llewelyn Soniat, Jim Stratton, Betsy Weymann

Residents/Guests: Brenda Floyd, Cindy Morse, Charlene Walvoord
————————————————————————————————————
Fall General Meeting/Party – Given all recent dislocations and complications, we decided to re-schedule our fall general meeting/party gathering for Sunday afternoon, October 26, from 4-7.  (It’s the day the Saints play the Chargers in London, at noon, local time.  J  )  Danny Kieffer has kindly agreed to host again.  Amanda and Cindy are working on the details.  We’ll plan to ask folks to bring food to share, as before.  Suggested invitees included Councilwoman Midura, an NOPD representative, and principals of all the schools in the neighborhood.  More info to follow as we get closer.  And we’re open to suggestions.

Carrollton Shopping Center Redevelopment—Rodney reported that plans for the re-building of the old Carrollton Shopping Center (Carrollton at I-10) are disappointing.  Despite all the neighborhood suggestions that went into the Unified New Orleans Plan, plans for the Shopping Center continue to look like the former Center—a sea of parking lots with “big box” stores at the back and a restaurant up front.  We will be working with other neighborhood associations in the area to try to encourage modifications.  One driving force is the involvement of “GO Zone” bond funding in the project; there is a deadline by which those funds have to be spent.  We expect that the project will be before the City Planning Commission before too long.

Schools
–Johnson Elementary  — Cindy reported that a major “work day” is scheduled for Johnson for next Friday, September 19, from 10-3.  It was scheduled on a weekday to allow the students to be involved.  We need volunteers.  There are plans to build beds for vegetable gardens, a compost pile, and a butterfly garden.  We expect to also be building benches, assembling donated furniture, assembly a basketball goal, and similar projects.  Part of the work will help to make the school available after hours to the community, thanks to a grant from Target.

–Priestley School for Architecture and Construction—The public hearing scheduled for September 3 was cancelled because of Gustav; we’re not sure yet if it will be re-scheduled or if the September 20 deadline will be extended.  The public hearing on September 18 at 5:30, at McDonough #35, 1331 Kerlerec, is still scheduled, and we need as many people to attend as possible.  Our documents in support of Priestley (and of having the school at the Leonidas/Green site) are being distributed to decision-makers.  Rodney reported that he had heard that the decision-makers are more impressed by larger schools and wondered about the possibilities of Priestley partnering with another small charter school to occupy a single facility.

Treasurer’s Report – Cindy reported a bank balance of $1835.69.

Citizen Participation Project—Julianna reported that information is now available at http://www.nolacpp.org  Work on the Project has been divided among various Action Teams.  You can join an Action Team on the website.  The next meeting of the Action Teams will be Tuesday, September 23, 6 p.m., 3500 Canal, 2d floor.

Lessons Learned from Gustav—Julianna also reported that the evacuation site at Mater Dolorosa (for elderly and special needs persons needing assistance) had a shortage of volunteers.  We were not notified in advance of a need for volunteers.  We will try to connect with the organizers of the City’s assisted evacuation efforts to remedy that problem in the future.

September board meeting

It will be this Thursday, the 11th, at 7:00 PM at the Keller-Williams office, Leonidas at Leake.

General meeting/special districts

The spring general meeting was held tonight at St. Andrews. Our new City Inspector General, Robert Cerasoli, made an enjoyable presentation about how he came to be here and the enormous task his office faces in plumbing the depths of the inner workings of our city government. His first task is to measure the beast, something that perhaps has never been done. So far he has uncovered the existance of 142 quasi-governmental boards and commissions that spend our money and potentially saddle us with debts for years to come. (Ever heard of the “Planetarium Commission”? Me neither. ) It should be an interesting ride.

Of more immediate concern: The proposed Carrollton/Riverbend Security District and the proposed Pensiontown Improvement District. Senator Gray has made a pre-filing of bills designed to establish each. The details are subject to change up until late May when the legislature is scheduled to adjourn.

Here is a link to a copy of each bill, as it reads today: CRNA Security District Pensiontown Improvement District

Oh, the details…

There was much confusion by the end of the meeting regarding a host of issues:

  • There are 3 possible types of districts: Security, Improvement and Development, with the latter having the widest scope. Which is most desirable or appropriate?
  • The legislation defines two districts, effectively cutting CRNA in half. Is this the best way to go? Is the reason (security districts should be compact) acceptable, or accurate? (What about economies of scale?)
  • The name “Pensiontown”–few had ever heard of it and fewer liked it. It has historical roots, but it might be seen as derrogatory. This seemed to be important to many people.
  • Much confusion about overlapping neighborhood association borders. CRNA, Palmer Park and the Pensiontown borders all overlap. May or may not be a problem, depending on the situation. I wonder, though: If the CRNA Security District is approved, will the boundaries of the CRNA efectively shrink to the area between Carrollton, the river and the parish line? (It extends up to Claiborne, now.)
  • Does a Pensiontown Nhb Assoc. really exist, officially? No one seemed sure. Does it matter?
  • These are just a few of the general issues that came up tonight. There are more specific questions about the mechanics of the districts, such as:

  • What kinds of properties get assessed (just residential, or commercial, too? Vacant lots?)
  • How multi-tenant buildings get assessed.
  • What happens if property owners refuse to pay?
  • What do you think? What are your questions? Answers? Opinions?

    Leave a comment. Let’s get a discussion going.

    There will be another public meeting soon, place and time to be announced.

    January Board Meeting

    The next board meeting will be Monday, January 14 at 7:30 PM at Saltwater Grill, Carrollton and Willow.