April 22, 2021 10:00 AM
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NEW ORLEANS - At today’s regular meeting, the New Orleans City Council adopted several resolutions supporting a new sports complex in the Lower 9th Ward, proclaiming April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, backing SB173 and the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit, asking the City to promote equal opportunities for children to engage in recreational activities, and recognizing the Department of Property Management and Division of Cemeteries for their services throughout the pandemic.
Additionally, the Council requested a text amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) to update the definition of “winery” and corresponding uses, and approved the disbursement of funds, as required by the Jazz Casino Company’s lease agreement, to assist in funding education-related initiatives within Orleans Parish.
Unanimous Support for Construction of Lower 9th Ward Sports Stadium
The Council adopted Resolution R-21-137, expressing its full support of plans for a new stadium and sports complex in the Ninth Ward adjacent to George Washington Carver High School. Given there are only two stadiums with over 2,500 seat capacity available for use on the East Bank - Pan American Stadium and Tad Gormley Stadium, both located in City Park - there is a demonstrated need for additional sporting venues in New Orleans for middle and high school sports.
The proposed 9th Ward Stadium Complex will accommodate a range of sporting events from football and soccer to track and field with an artificial turf football field and an eight-lane track. Additionally, it will serve not just Carver High School but the entire City of New Orleans public school system, with special emphasis on the more eastern parts of the city.
According to the resolution, once the total project funds are raised, the facility will be under the governance of New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) with input from the community and those involved in providing the funding. NOPS will be executing a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the local non-profit, 9th Ward Stadium Inc., to allow the non-profit to fundraise for the project. The Council is urging the Louisiana Legislature to allocate State Capital Outlay funding for the 9th Ward Stadium Complex, which will serve as a catalyst for the entire City of New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward community still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Rendering courtesy of The Athletic
April Declared National Child Abuse Prevention Month in New Orleans
Following the adoption of Resolution R-21-138 authored by Councilmember Brossett, April will now be recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in New Orleans. The Council is asking all citizens to celebrate this observance month by dedicating themselves to improving the quality of life for all children and families. According to the resolution, child abuse and neglect continues to be a major problem in our community, with 11,132 reports of child abuse and neglect in the New Orleans area in 2019 alone.
Child abuse prevention must be a community responsibility, with buy-in from all individual residents and families. The most effective prevention activities succeed as a result of strong partnerships between child welfare professionals, education, health, community and faith‐based organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and families.
In order to make a real impact, residents must first educate themselves on the plethora of available resources across the city, such as:
The old motto of “see something, say something” represents one of the best defenses in preventing or intervening and stopping the abuse of local youth. Throughout the month of April, all New Orleanians are encouraged to make every effort to promote and support local programs and activities that help to create strong and thriving children and families.
New Zoning Definitions and Uses Proposed for Local Wineries
The Council passed a legislative grouping (ZD 16/21 & M-21-145) regarding CZO amendments to update the definition of “winery” and add to appropriate use tables. In the course of its review, the City Planning Commission (CPC) staff is asked to consider this use in the context of similar uses such as “breweries” and “distilleries,” and provide recommendations to establish consistency amongst these in appropriate zoning districts.
This change would impact all zoning districts that permit micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, breweries, and distilleries either by-right or through conditional use. As stated by the CPC in its recommendation, the proposed text amendment would provide several benefits, including:
- The updated definition of “winery” will more accurately reflect the use and align to that of micro-brewery and micro-distillery, which have similar levels of intensity and use type;
- Would permit wineries in the same zoning districts to those of micro-breweries and micro-distilleries and permit distilleries in the same zoning districts as breweries, rectifying inconsistencies in the zoning ordinance between similar uses with similar impacts; and
- Address a broader policy issue by analyzing wineries and distilleries comprehensively.
Resolution Touts Local & Statewide Benefits of Motion Picture Production Tax Credit
The Council adopted Resolution R-21-134 in support of SB173 and the administration of the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit. According to Louisiana Entertainment, Louisiana has hosted more than 400 film productions and numerous television series and documentaries over the last ten years alone. The state’s skilled crew base has also grown by more than 400%, demonstrating Louisiana has the local workforce to maximize the benefits of any production filming that takes place here.
From a local perspective, New Orleans is now the #4 production city in the United States, behind only Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. Film New Orleans, an entity of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, tracks direct spending and anything with a direct connection to production within our region. In 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic year with data, this amounted to $782,962,829, with spending from January to April in 2021 totaling $427,000,000.
This is not just about dollars but also the workforce members of this sector. During COVID-19, the film and television industry implemented some of the safest work protocols of any industry across the country; safety protocols allowed the industry to return to work quickly and responsibly, putting Louisianans to work and providing small businesses across the state with needed revenue.
SB173 helps guarantee programmatic stability, which will be critical in the months and years ahead. Louisiana must remain acutely aware of the consequences resulting from discriminatory and inhospitable legislation and the economic impacts those unjust legislative measures can have on a variety of sectors. For these reasons and more, the Council strongly supports the passage of SB173 by the State Legislature.
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Entertainment
Council Advocates for Increased Services and Access to Recreational Activities for Youth
As part of ongoing efforts to support New Orleans youth, the Council adopted Resolution R-21-135 affirming the right of every child to engage in age-appropriate recreational, cultural, and leisurely activities; and asking the City to respect and promote equal opportunities for children to do so.
The City of New Orleans has been selected as a Leadership City by the Children and Nature Network and the National League of Cities, an effort led by Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen’s office, Sankofa, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, and the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families Audubon Nature Institute. With this recognition, the City has committed to identifying opportunities that move New Orleans toward becoming a place of nearby nature connection where children, families, and the environment thrive.
Per the resolution, numerous studies show that young people who are able to learn and play in nature are not only healthier and happier but also perform better in school. Now, more than ever, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring all children across the city have access to safe outdoor recreational spaces will be of the utmost importance.
City Agencies Applauded for Cemetery Services During COVID-19
With its adoption of Resolution R-21-147, Councilmembers recognized the ongoing dedication of the Department of Property Management and Division of Cemeteries for assuring safe access to City-owned cemeteries throughout the pandemic. Since the onset of COVID-19, New Orleanians have lost over 730 loved ones to the virus. Adding additional pain and trauma, necessary health and safety restrictions on gatherings have made it nearly impossible for family and friends to appropriately mourn those who have passed over the course of the year.
Recognizing the growing emotional impact on grieving families, the Division of Cemeteries has routinely made provisions to support them, such as opening for Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 9, a day of the week when all six municipal cemeteries are typically closed to the public. The Council expressed its deepest gratitude to all of the department’s staff and community partners who have and continue to work tirelessly to support their fellow New Orleanians when they need it most.
Members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, including Councilmember Jay H. Banks, before a funeral procession in New Orleans via the New York Times
Chief of Staff
New Orleans City Council