Construction at the new Morris Jeff Community School site has caused a serious disturbance for Mid-City neighbors, board member Jennifer Weishaupt said at a recent board meeting.
The new school, located at 211 S. Lopez St., is on schedule for completion in October, with students moving in after the winter holiday. In fact, Weishaupt said, the contractor — F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielson — is 48 days ahead of schedule. There’s an incentive for finishing early.
Neighbors have complained to the school that work has continued around the clock, including Sundays and early morning hours, despite city ordinances that regulate construction work.
According to Weishaupt, one neighbor who contacted the board by email said at least three neighbors have moved after a stop-work order requested by City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s office fell through. The neighbor described home break-ins, an unauthorized street closure and uncomfortable encounters with workers since construction began, Weishaupt reported at the March 20 meeting.
The contractor has had issues with neighbors on other projects. In 2011, during work on the Charles Colton Building on St. Claude Avenue, Bywater residents complained about damage and disturbance from a demolition subcontractor. F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielson also contracted with the city of New Orleans for repairs to Freret Street, which had to be repaired by another contractor last year.
Weishaupt said neighbors were invited to the board meeting but were unable to attend. The board hopes to meet with the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization soon to find a solution.
The contract for this project was negotiated by the Recovery School District, which oversees facilities construction for their schools. Morris Jeff is currently leasing space from Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church.
Morris Jeff Principal Patricia Perkins said the school received 510 applications for enrollment through the OneApp process for the 2014-15 school year, with 180 students picking Morris Jeff as their first choice. Perkins also reported that the school received 46 first-choice applications for its pre-kindergarten program, which has only 20 seats.
The next board meeting will be held April 17 in the school’s cafeteria.