The Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference has been taking place over the past few days. The conference is presented by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) in collaboration with the American Planning Association (APA) and co-sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NHTP) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The following essential points emerged from presentations on 11/10/05:
1) Louisiana needs a comprehensive vision with elements that help establish priorities and lead to implementation. The term “comprehensive” is key. There may be a number of well-meaning but disparate efforts; Louisianans need to think regionally and reduce duplication
2) Levee protection concerns and the restoration of Coast Louisiana Wetlands must go hand-in-hand in order to achieve the greatest flood control benefit for the region and to reestablish confidence and assure reinvestment.
3) Key catalytic projects are needed, such as light rail to the airport, with mixed-use development and schools as community centers.
4) Every vision needs a champion—some person or group that will be the “keeper of the flame,” spurring progress, providing status reports and updating the vision and action plan as appropriate.
5) While it is critically important that each individual organization and agency’s concerns be addressed, in order to assure the greatest level of efficiency, a single entity must provide leadership and accountability in the reconstruction efforts.
6) Adherence to the fundamental principles of sustainable development, by which we provide for current needs while not compromising the availability of resources for future needs, should drive the comprehensive approach to the region’s rebuilding efforts.
7) Preserving Louisiana’s rich heritage and distinctive cultures is one of the fundamentals principles that should guide the recovery efforts.
8) It is possible to allow displaced people to return to communities that are healthy, vibrant, familiar places to live and work by having and using what can be saved and secondly, by making sure that new development supports existing communities and respects historic character.
9) Preservation is critically important to recovery because it’s one of the most effective economic development tools we have. In addition to bringing in tourists and tourism dollars, rehabilitation is more labor intensive. Studies show that $1,000,000 spent on rehabilitation creates more jobs than the same amount of money spent on new construction.
From the participants via AmericaSpeaks electronic feedback:
Overall Infrastructure Themes
Need for once voice coming from the state
Sense of urgency to address core infrastructure, transportation, utility issues
Federal assistance – national support is essential
Local, regional, and state cooperation – politics and corruption can’t derail the process
Sustainable model over the long term
Lessons from the Dutch levee model
Transportation presentation was very valuable
Flood Control Themes
Multiple uses for levees?
Sustainable, holistic view and integrated plan
Coordinate levee with coastal and wetland restoration
Short term plan – need to restore confidence so displaced residents return
Need to have central authority and accountability for flood protection
Need to prevent and don’t subsidize sprawl
Regional planning process
Need for second line of defense for levee failure
The conference will run through November 12, 2005, at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel.