Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Beating back the bulldozers

With the announcement that much of flooded St. Bernard Parish would be bulldozed, one of my fears has been that large swaths of New Orleans would meet the same fate. However, the city is bringing in teams of preservation experts who will inspect every home prior to ay consideration of demolition.

This could lead to the preservation of the character of innundated naighborhoods such as Bywater.

Converting large areas of the core city into hastily-built suburban tract homes or modern townhouses would radically alter the character of one of the nation's oldest cities. It is less clear what this will mean for areas such as Lakeview or New Orleans East, built out in the second half of the 20th Century.

"The public is concerned about coming home and not finding their houses; that's not going to happen," Vieux Carre Commission Deputy Director Dan Brown told more than 50 preservationists who met in Baton Rouge to discuss ways to minimize loss of New Orleans' historically significant buildings and cultural sites.

Brown said every flood-damaged house or building in New Orleans, whether or not it is located in a historic district, will be visited by one of 100 assessment teams the city will field, and photographs of each building will be posted on the Internet.

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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