State releases long-awaited lead cleanup money, but city takes no action for daycares

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After the state took nearly a year and a half to approve a city proposal to remove lead from childcare facilities, the program is stalled with the city, where it’s sat for the past three months.

Still, environmentalists are happy that the money is finally free of the state’s tight grips with hopes that work soon can start on cleaning up day-care facilities.

On Feb. 2, The Lens reported on the state delay in approving the $3.5 million Lead Watch Communities Program. The effort is considered a high priority under the Long Term Community Recovery plan, which is financed through $411 million in federal money.

The lead program will help the city identify and clean up childcare facilities with lead paint inside and high levels of lead in the soil outside. The city’s proposal was slowly processed  by the state’s third-party consultant, Louisiana Solutions –  the city waited some 17 months for final approval.

The state approved the program Feb. 3, but the city has done nothing since. The decision of when to use the money will be made after Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu is sworn in on May 3, said the city’s Office of Environment Affairs Director Wynecta Fisher.

The state Community Development Office, responsible for authorizing the contract after Louisiana Solutions’ review, said that the project is “conditionally approved.” This means that as the project is implemented, the city will have to seek state approval as the program moves forward.

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