By: Clancy DuBos
A group of Lower Mid-City residents and business owners has written an open letter to Mayor Ray Nagin and City Council members demanding a voice in the decision-making process relating to property acquisitions for the LSU-VA Hospital.
The hospital, which Bobby Jindals Administration recently approved at 424 beds, is slated to occupy some 37 acres between Canal Street and Tulane Avenue, from South Claiborne Avenue to South Rocheblave Street. The city and state have partnered to acquire private properties in the area, by expropriation if necessary, and the land assembly will include demolition of scores of old homes and some local landmarks.Our historic neighborhood has been designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the U.S. today, the letter states. Citing documents that Nagin executed as authorizing the wholesale bulldozing and destruction of our neighborhood and alleging that one of the agreements expired in April, the residents and business owners demanded a full and open debate in a public forum with our elected officials before any agreement is renewed. The alleged failure to have such an open debate is unconscionable, the property owners claim, adding that they support the development of a comprehensive, quality health care delivery system for our residents and veterans somewhere else.In response to an email from Gambit Weekly, Nagin said the city is about to embark on a historic process to examine the environmental impact of the new hospital complex in our community. Nagin promised to cooperate with all the federal and state agencies to meet federal environmental and neighborhood protection requirements. We want all of our citizens to feel free to engage in this process to assure it is transparent and that everyones input will be considered, Nagin wrote.