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Ref: Louisiana Recovery Authority approves NOLA recovery plan


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LRA approves New Orleans recovery plan

Posted by The Times-Picayune June 25, 2007 1:07PM
By Michelle Krupa
Staff writer

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Recovery Authority board on Monday accepted New Orleans' citywide recovery plan, setting in motion the release of $117 million in federal grants for infrastructure repairs for government and non-profit entities across the city.

Board members, meeting at the State Capital, also approved a similar plan created by residents of St. Bernard Parish, which is slated to get $26.3 million from the LRA.

In presenting the New Orleans Strategic Recovery and Redevelopment Plan, city recovery czar Ed Blakely said he plans to get a bank to advance the money to the city so officials can access it immediately for recovery projects in 17 target zones and in other parts of the flood zones.

Federal law bars local entities from receiving the sum as a one-time cash payment, instead requiring the state Office of Community Development to disburse it on a project-by-project basis. Blakely told the LRA that after a 10-day public comment period, he will ask the department to write a letter confirming the $117 million allocation, which he will take as a "letter of credit" to a private bank.

LRA members, who insisted that New Orleans create a plan covering the entire city, not just flooded neighborhoods, lauded city officials for presenting a comprehensive document aimed not only at rebuilding wrecked areas but also preparing the city for long-term viability.

In turn, Blakely, along with City Council members James Carter, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, called the LRA's acceptance of the plan a critical step in New Orleans' lagging recovery.

"This is the summer of decision-making," Willard-Lewis said. "Many of our families will be returning, and to add to their personal investments, it is so significant that they see our police officers moving out of FEMA trailers and into buildings, that our public libraries are opened, and that the green space for recreation ... is put in place."

The city's redevelopment plan grew out of the Unified New Orleans Plan, as well as at least seven other planning processes that followed the flood. Also addressing the LRA board on New Orleans' behalf were UNOP directors Steve Bingler and Joe Butler.

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