March 23, 2017
City Council Chamber
City Council Regular Meeting News Summary March 23, 2017
NEW ORLEANS - At today's meeting, the Council honored the Landry-Walker men's basketball team on its recent state championship and heard presentations from members of the GU272 Descendants Association and VetLaunch.
Additionally, the Council voted to approve the creation of the Parkview Local Historic District, passed an ordinance authorizing the demolition of the Canal Street ferry terminal, passed a series aviation and airport-related ordinances, and approved New Orleans Building Corporation Lease Agreements.
GU272 Descendants Association Honored
Today, the Council honored the GU272 Descendants Association, an organization that has grown out of the publication of the history of Georgetown University's involvement in slavery and the slave trade. In 1838, amid dire financial trouble, Georgetown University sold off 272 slaves for $115,000 (over $3 million in today's dollars). As descendants of these slaves sold by the university in 1838, the GU272 organization aims to reconnect families who were torn apart by slavery. They have secured local, national and even international media coverage shedding light on the Jesuits' infamous sale of the 272 men, women and children.
"Not many people know that some of the greatest numbers of auctions and slave trades happened right here in New Orleans," said Council President Stacy Head. "The work you do is going to add so much depth to what we're doing as a City, as a state, and as a country and I want to thank you for that."
Following the presentation, the members received a resolution on behalf of District "C" Councilmember Ramsey recognizing the work of the organization in bringing awareness, healing, and reconciliation to the issue of the history of enslavement in the United States.
"Today, I had the opportunity to shine a light on a long-neglected aspect of our shared history," said Councilmember Ramsey. "The GU272 Descendants Association represents the descendants of those enslaved women, men and children who in 1838 were sold to rescue Georgetown University and the Jesuits of Maryland Province from bankruptcy. The GU272 Descendants Association is doing the difficult work of educating us on the horrors and legacies of slavery, while uplifting all races through healing and reconciliation. I support their efforts and look forward to working with them to advance these goals."
Members of the Council with the GU272 Descendants Association
The Council heard a presentation from VetLaunch, a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to providing veterans the resources they need to effectively make the transition from military to civilian life. VetLaunch was created to assist veterans upon their return home from business start-up help to job training and placement in order to help military men and women shift from combat to career.
VetLaunch is the only small business accelerator in Louisiana specifically for veterans, which offers workforce development and employment services. The organization offers veterans public/pitch speaking training and assigns each a personal mentor. Its long-term goal is to take the pilot program started here in New Orleans, and apply it to other cities around the state and ultimately the country.
Creation of the Parkview Local Historic District
After opening the floor to public comment, the Council voted to approve the creation of the Parkview Historic District, which will grant the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission (HDLC) jurisdiction over demolitions within the boundaries of the district. The Parkview Local Historic District came up for a vote today following the approval of the Mid-City Historic District at the last Council Meeting on Feb. 23 and previous approvals of districts for Carrollton and Uptown, which are expected to take effect on March 1.
After carefully scrutinizing the reports and surveys on the matter last September, the City Planning Commission voted that the designations should be created and that the Historic District Landmarks Commission should be given limited oversight in both Mid-City and Parkview.
This designation requires future developers to first have plans reviewed by the City's Historic Landmarks District Commission if they require demolitions. City staff recommended the Council approve Parkview's designation as a historic district without any changes, meaning new construction and demolition would be controlled by HDLC. However, the ordinance approved today gives the HDLC only "partial control" over developments, meaning it will have the authority to weigh in on demolitions but will have no say in renovations or construction permits.
Councilmember Guidry, who proposed the legislation to create the Parkview Historic District, stated that shifting oversight of demolitions away from the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee to the HDLC is essential to streamlining the permitting process. Council President Stacy Head also vocalized support for the creation of Parkview as a local historic district. The Parkview Local Historic District includes parts of Moss, St. Louis and North Rocheblave streets, City Park, Esplanade and Orleans avenues.
New Orleans City Study Committee's suggested boundaries for the new Mid-City Local Historic District
Canal St. Ferry Terminal Demolition Approved
Today, the Council approved the demolition of the Canal Street Ferry Terminal located at the foot of Canal Street and extending to the Mississippi River. While there's no completed plan to replace the terminal, the current design proposed by the RTA calls for a glass-covered oblong building a few hundred feet from the riverfront. Additionally, two gangways will connect to a repurposed barge for embarkation, and a section of the riverfront would be filled in to create a connected pedestrian plaza.
The project's managers have said its design is about 50 percent complete. While they have secured $15 million in federal transportation grants, approximately $17 million more is needed to complete it, resulting in a grand total of $32 million to replace the building.
The RTA's request for demolition of the old ferry building deadlocked the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, February 21, with four votes in approval and three against, sending it to the full City Council for a vote today.
Ferry riders and transit advocates expressed concern for the designs failure to provide an elevated railroad crossing or sheltered walkways to protect embarking passengers from heat and rain. The two largest issues for opponents are the lack of a covered walkway for passengers boarding and exiting the ferry and the lack of a passenger bridge over the nearby railroad tracks. Others argued against the demolition entirely, insisting the existing, 37-year-old facility could still be renovated and used.
RTA acquired the ferry operation in 2014 from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development after Orleans and Jefferson Parish voters decided two years earlier to discontinue toll collections on the Crescent City Connection.
Transdev, the private operator for RTA, has said the request for the demolition permit is in line with the project's overall schedule, but the actual leveling of the site isn't scheduled until August. In the meantime, they will have to return to the Planning Commission with the final designs for the new terminal, with the goal of having everything completed by the City's upcoming 2018 tricentennial celebration.
In response to public concern expressed today and earlier this week, a resolution authored by District "B" Councilmember Cantrell was passed by the Council. The resolution formally states the Council's commitment to providing the appropriate pedestrian protections for the project. R-17-168 represents a formal pledge from the Council in working with the Mayor, RTA and the state delegation to acquire the necessary additional funding for the pedestrian bridge and pedestrian coverage from the terminal to the ferry itself.
New Orleans Building Corporation Lease Agreements
The Council unanimously passed two ordinances today, authored by Councilmembers Head, Williams, and Cantrell, pertaining to the New Orleans Building Corporation (NOBC). The purpose of which is to own, lease, develop and operate properties owned by the City of New Orleans or by the Corporation.
The first ordinance passed today authorizes the Mayor to enter into a lease with the NOBC, pursuant to which NOBC will lease the parking garage on the City-owned property at 100 Poydras Street. The NOBC will lease to Two Canal Garage Owner LLC for the purposes and use and operation as a parking facility.
On December 15, 2016, the Council passed an ordinance merging the New Orleans Building Corporation (NOBC) and the Canal Street Development Corporation (CSDC), leaving the NOBC as the surviving entity. This formal consolidation of the two combined the portfolio of the City's economic development properties and streamlined board oversight.
Council Approves Airport Concessions Contracts
The Council passed an ordinance pertaining to the New Orleans Aviation Board (NOAB) and the Louis Armstrong International Airport. Prior to the vote, the Council received a presentation from airport representatives including Jacob Stephens, Assistant City Attorney at New Orleans Aviation Board and Edgar Chase of Chase Catering & Concessions.
The ordinance authorizes the Mayor, acting through the NOAB, to enter into competitively bid lease agreements with the two highest-scoring food and beverage concessionaires.
The NOAB awarded global restaurateur, HMSHost, a ten-year contract to operate food and beverage spaces in the airport's North Terminal. Sales for this new contract are projected to be $300 million over the course of the 10 years. HMSHost will bring several new dining concepts to the airport in collaboration with local partners for an authentic New Orleans experience that speaks to the city's renowned food and beverage culture.
"I'm excited to see the addition of these incredible local and global restaurateurs, which will bring a world-class cuisine to a world-class airport," said District "D" Councilmember and Chair of the Council's Transportation and Airport Committee, Jared Brossett. "The restaurant scene in New Orleans is one-of-a-kind because it's not just a scene, but an ingrained way of life. People travel the globe to experience the rich culture our city has created around food, and I'm proud that our airport will now reflect that."