New Orleans unveils rebuilding plan
January 12, 2006 - 11:29AM- (Sydney Morning Herald Online)
Orleans has unveiled a controversial recovery plan giving residents four months to prove they will rebuild in the devastated city before their areas could be declared off-limits to redevelopment.
The plan calls for a much smaller city, housing just half of the 500,000 people who lived in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29 will return in the next two years.
It proposes residents and experts form planning teams for each neighbourhood that will decide by May 20 on the fate of those most heavily damaged by the storm and the flooding that followed.
It was designed by the urban-planning panel of the Bring Back New Orleans Commission appointed by Mayor Ray Nagin.
For an area to be ruled viable, half the residents should commit to come back, the commission proposed as a guideline.
Until decisions are made, a moratorium will be placed on rebuilding in badly damaged sections such as New Orleans East, the waterfront Lakeview and the poverty-stricken Lower Ninth Ward.
The proposal drew loud "boos" and shouts of anger from residents who crowded a downtown hotel meeting room for its announcement.
"I'm ready to rebuild. I'm not going to let you take everything. I'm ready to fight to get my property together," one man shouted from the back of the room.
Carolyn Parker, a resident of the ruined Lower Ninth, told the panel: "I don't think it's right that you try to take my property.
"Over my dead body," she said. "I didn't die with Katrina."
If a neighbourhood is not deemed habitable, or too few residents return, the city could ban redevelopment and turn it into a park or open space. Property owners could be compensated in a proposed federal buyback program that would provide 100 per cent of their homes' pre-storm value.
"There's no question there's going to be shrinkage. People don't want to hear that," said Joseph Canizaro, chairman of the panel.
The concept of getting rid of certain neighbourhoods altogether has angered many black residents of the Lower Ninth Ward who fear theirs is among the most likely to be closed.
The plan will cost $US12 billion ($A16 billion) for property buybacks, $US4.8 billion ($A6.37 billion) to build transportation and another $US1 billion ($A1.33 billion) for demolition of housing and reconstruction of damaged public buildings, said John Beckman, a planning consultant for the commission who laid out the details for the public.
The plan gives everyone an opportunity to return, said Beckman, adding: "We want these people back, every single one of them".