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Why Magazine Street is Still Blocked.

This issue hits home with me because I live one block from the intersection that has been blocked to traffic for over 2 years now. It hits home to all of us because right now Magazine Street is one of the main veins of commerce, culture and life in this city. In any other city in the country it would have been dealt with, opened and been a non-issue.  But not here in the slow and dragging Dirty.

Here is an email I was forwarded by my friend and neighbor AD that helps clarify the street closure:

• My understanding is that city issued a stop work order because the properties were in danger of collapsing. I do not believe that property owners filed lawsuits until 2006, but I don’t know for sure

• Properties were in disrepair for decades, but were never in danger of imminent collapse until the SWB’s contractor damaged them 2004 and no steps have been taken to repair them in the meantime. Now they are in really bad shape

• City cited the owners in the past but ultimately failed over the decades to enforce building and housing codes to make these property owners maintain their property

• From the perspective of the HDLC and preservationists, the buildings are NOLA heritage that must be saved

• SWB in at least one other case (I will get more details) is using every delay tactic available to settle with another owner whose property they damaged. This owner never neglected his property and promptly filed a law suit against SWB and their contractor after they refused to pay to repair his damage.

• Many folks are worn out and just want the street opened, to the point that they will accept that the buildings are in imminent danger of collapse and beyond repair. This is a pragmatic approach and is likely the fastest way to get the street re-opened.

• It may very well be possible to save the buildings, but it will not be cheap. So what? The SWB caused the damage, they need to pay.

• The city apparently stymied efforts by preservationists (Rob Wolf and the Coliseum Square Association may have the facts) to get independent engineering opinions on methods to save the buildings

• With all of the work that the SWB needs to do in our city in the future, it would seem to be a really good idea to study what went wrong and learn how not to repeat this in the future

• I get the impression that many are now simply resigning themselves to the fact that legal tactics and delays by SWB are inevitable, and as long as we can get the street opened, we should just roll over and allow the SWB and their attorneys to avoid responsibility. Practically, we can’t really get involved in those disputes, but why can’t we publicly demand that Marcia St John (?) and other leaders do the honorable thing? Our mayor is also on the SWB board

• Another way to spin this is that the property owners are ultimately responsible for maintaining their property, failed to do so for many years to the point of not even suing the SWB until recently (is that true?) The city needs the street reopened, so let’s just demolish the buildings and let the property owners sue the SWB for however long it will take, that is what they deserve for failing to maintain their property before the street work even started. Life ain’t fair, and this is the most expedient solution, so…in this case ”two wrongs” do make a “right”?

• We have a track record in this town of allowing property owners to get away with demolition by neglect, and the city ultimately winds up paying for the actual demolition. Except in this case, it is the property owners, the SWB and the city that all ‘neglected’ the property…and will get away with it

This is in summary a classic example of the dysfunction of our government

• SWB, a state agency, damaged the buildings. Their failure to do the honorable thing and fix the damage they caused is shameful beyond the pale

• City issued a stop work order to prevent collapse, but have done absolutely nothing since to resolve the problem and get the street reopened.

• AND PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE THAT IS THE CITY’S RESPONSIBILITY - To add insult to injury, the city has done nothing to make sure the area is clean, well lit and safe. There have been numerous assaults, lots of dumping of trash and auto parts, and a lack of good streetlights. Just because the street has to be closed temporarily (3 years) does not mean it has to become a new circle of hell. Not to mention the disruptions to police, fire and ambulance getting held up at the detour

January 23, 2007 in Nola Stuff | Permalink


Thanks for posting that email. What a fricking mess.

Posted by: Adrastos | Jan 24, 2007 8:49:35 AM

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