Squandered Heritage Vintage
 

Public Comment

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

Replacement Medical Center
Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
VAMC New Orleans, LA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announces the preparation and availability of a document titled “Draft Environmental Assessment” (EA) for the proposed land acquisition and construction associated with the Replacement Medical Center project for the VA in New Orleans, LA. This second notice is provided to allow for additional 30 day public comment period. This project would ultimately construct a new medical center campus including facilities for inpatient and outpatient care, mental health, nursing home care, and ancillary facilities including surface and structure parking. The EA has been prepared in accordance with the regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), (Public Law 91-190, 42 USC 4321-4347, January 1, 1970) and amendments. VA intends to issue a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) after February 13, 2008, in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing NEPA, Section 1508.13.

For further information and/or a copy of the EA please contact the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the following:


Ms. Liz Failla, Project Engineer/Coordinator
Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
P.O. Box 61011
New Orleans, LA 70161

Phone: (504) 553-5986

Comments should be submitted to the Director, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the above address.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use for Squandered Heritage. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • bobbi

    It’s important that the VA/City/State take their time and give the neighborhood the respect and planning that it deserves. How can an entire historic residential neighborbood be torn down and replaced with a medical complex and a finding of ‘No Significant Impact’ be found? The people of this neighborhood and the surrounding affected area would like a fair and vigilant planning process that is inclusive – not exclusive.

  • Looks like the new medical center is almost a done deal – too bad the ACoE doesn’t/can’t move that fast in building levees

    I wonder if the Save the Haus group will have any impact in the decision? Surely the center can build around it since its on the perimeter.

    I drive past that area almost daily, there are alot of homes in that neighborhood, viable housing – too bad they can’t just tear down the old VA/Charity and start new on the same site

  • urbanrenewal2

    Yes, the hospital is on its way, but shortcuts shouldn’t be taken with consideration of the impacts. There will be mass demolitions, displacement of people, permanent changes and closings of streets, yet no significant impact exists. Part of the study claims that the historic integrity of houses was compromised by sitting in the floodwaters for weeks, therefore sorry, no impact. Road widening projects in Anywhere have receive more in depth study than this one. Shame on the VA.

  • Matt

    Swampwoman,

    Be careful what you wish for. Two of the Corps’ alignments for the permanent 17th St canal pumping station knocks out either a large chunk of Lakeview or a large chunk of Bucktown…

    http://www.nolaenvironmental.gov/nola_public_data/projects/usace_levee/docs/original/Static%20Displays%20August%2007%20IER5.pdf

  • Mary

    Pre-Katrina I lived in this area for 27 years, and it was always a “forgotten” zone. Owners of most properties did not live in the area. Sucking out maximum rent despite neglect led eventually to abandonment. Those of us with a conscience struggled against all odds to retain a community spirit.
    Someone needs to document exactly how many and which turn-of-the-(20th)century houses and structures are viable in the impacted area. There is no reason many if not all of these could be moved on to nearby blocks (Deutches Haus and Dixie Beer main building excepted) and offered as affordable housing for medical workers and support staff in the years to come.
    Anything short of this is stupid, short-sighted and simply unacceptable. I have renovated and upgraded my four single shotgun houses on the periphery of the impacted area. They are comfortable, reasonably priced and centrally located– and yes, it was a lot of work. but they are all rented out — to laborers. To quote our new governor: it can be done. It must be done. It will be done!

  • Mary

    correction to earlier post: “There is no reason many if not all of these could NOT be moved on to nearby blocks.”

  • Daniel H.

    This notice indicates that the VA is moving to complete the NEPA review before it begins the NHPA 106 review. This is problematic because a completed NEPA document will have an imposing influence on the 106 review. If this document is an Environmental Assessment/Finding Of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI), which is what the VA is moving to create, it will mean a less thorough, less meaningful 106 review. However, if it is an Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision (EIS/ROD), a document that more meaningfully addresses adverse impacts and mitigation, it will mean a more thorough, more meaningful 106 review. This re-opened comment period is an opportunity for the communtiy, the SHPO, and the ACHP to tell the VA that its DEA does not adequately address historic preservation and community-related issues like Historic Structures, Land Use, and other concerns. To begin to truly give a “hard look” at the adverse impacts this project will have on these concerns, the VA needs to create an Environmental Impact Statement.

  • BillygoatPark

    There appears to be a misconception regarding the actual age of many of the homes still standing in the proposed LSU/VA footprint. While drainage and development of the section of the MicCity National Historic District lying ABOVE Broad Street does indeed date to the early 20th century, the area slated for obliteration by the LSU/VA projects was first drained in the 1840s, first developed in the 1850s and was substantially filled-in by 1880.

    The neighborhood has a large inventory of salvageable housing stock, much of it existing in intact grouping and some nearly-intact blocks along Palmyra, Cleveland (formerly Gasquet, formerly Jackson) and side streets in a footprint that expends from Claiborne to Rocheblave. When viewed from the air and compared to the Plate 5 of the Robinson Atlas (copyrighted in 1883 but based the Braun surveys of the late 1870s), it appears that much of the existing housing stock is intact and matches footprints documented circa 1880. Robinson Plate 5 may be found online at the New Orleans Notarial Archives: http://www.notarialarchives.org/robinson/atlas/robinson5.html

    Before readers assume that the original German, Irish, American and African-American families left the neighborhood because they didn’t care, they should acquaint themselves with the urban renewal projects of the 1950s, 60s and 70s that were enacted without neighborhood involvement and which were at first filled with empty promises then typified by empty or ill-kept commercial and municipal buildings. The neighborhood’s pre-Katrina decline is directly connected to more than 50 years of botched urban planning, much of which was done without meaningful community input.

  • Jeff

    I’m with Mary. The hospitals need to happen, but both the design of the hospitals and the impacts of the community need to be taken into consideration. There is no reason that any of the residential units need to be torn down if they can be moved to nearby infill lots and renovated. It would benefit the neighborhood and the VA’s bottom line.