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neighborhood watch

To the Editor:

s a 15-year homeowner in the vibrant, historic neighborhood behind the proposed Arabella Station project and an active member of the Uptown Neighborhood Improvement residents' association, I wish to contest some of the statements that appeared in your recent "Real Barn Burner" commentary (Feb. 27).

First, while my neighbors and I all want to "turn an unwanted eyesore into a neighborhood treasure," we cannot agree with your blanket statement that "redevelopment of the dilapidated bus barn would improve the neighborhood, not hurt it." If that development is too commercially intense, it will irreparably harm our residential quality of life and property values. Instead, we want development that fits -- and we've seen other visionary proposals that could develop the bus barn without destroying this historic area's charm, scale and character.

We also take issue with your opinion "that the CPC's suggested compromise ... attempts to strike a reasonable balance." The CPC recommendation would allow a 30,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery store with its principal entrance located at the back of the barn, facing narrow, residential Constance Street, while several national retail chain shops would face Magazine. Where else is there a CPC precedent of any suburban-sized store fronting into a fragile, urban neighborhood?

We believe a proposed grocery store should only front commercial Magazine Street, while also adhering to the current B-2 zoning. And we know it can be done. Local favorite Langenstein's has confirmed that they "could operate a complete grocery store within a 15,000 square foot area inside the car barn," which is well within the 25,000 square foot B-2 limit. FYI, Langenstein's entire suburban Metairie Road facility operates using 21,000 square feet of space.

And finally, your commentary addressed the 1991 zoning change, unanimously passed to ensure the barn's future appropriate revitalization, with: "Certainly all zoning plans should be cooperative endeavors, but no plan can foresee all future trends."

But unless New Orleans wants to end up looking more like Houston, we believe that homeowners should be motivated to continue to invest in and lovingly restore the precious Victorian shotguns and Creole cottages that line Constance, Arabella, Joseph and Patton streets -- the same block where Arabella Station plans to put an exterior 200-plus car parking lot. Instead, we envision covered retail parking inside the cavernous barn and the empty, residentially zoned square behind it wisely developed into much-needed, two-family housing stock -- while preserving our peaceful neighborhood.

Betsy Stout

victims' rights

To the Editor:

n response to "Where's the Justice?" (Feb. 6), Ronnie Virgets brazenly tramples the ethics of responsible journalism. He described the rape survivor in degrading terms and included enough details to permit identification of the survivor.

In recent years, victim advocacy groups have worked hard to educate the media about the dangers of publicly identifying sexual assault survivors. Namely, the possibility of being publicly identified as the victim of a sex crime may discourage victims from reporting crimes to the police and testifying against their attackers and may compound a victim's sense of humiliation and loss of control.

Mr. Virgets passed judgment on the victim. He criticized her hair color, her body and her speech. He used insulting words to describe her. His focus on her drug use strongly implied that she is partly to blame for being raped.

Yet Mr. Virgets claimed, in the title of his article, to be seeking justice. We see absolutely no justice or compassion or respect in his treatment of the victim. We would suggest to Mr. Virgets that justice is found in preserving the dignity of crime victims and in preserving the rights of defendants to receive fair trials. Justice is found in pursuing an end to violence against women by refusing to participate in its perpetuation, including the use of objectifying and dehumanizing language.

Jeannine DiCristina

Tracey Monteferrario-Rubenstein

Editor's Note: DiCristina is program director and Monteferrario-Rubenstein is a victim services counselor with the Victim Witness Services Division of District Attorney Harry Connick's office.

tuff city responds

To the Editor:

his is to convey Tuff City/Night Train's appreciation of Scott Jordan's fair-minded review of our Smokey Johnson CD It Ain't My Fault. We would like, however, to offer a point of information. While it is true that the lawsuit over the ownership of the copyright to [the song] "It Ain't My Fault" is currently being appealed, this comes on the heels of Tuff City's victory in the lower courts, wherein the judge ruled that Tuff City entered into legal and fair contracts with Smokey Johnson and Wardell Quezergue for the purchase of "It Ain't My Fault." After reviewing all of the evidence, the judge took the unusual step of describing Tuff City as "a music company that invests in forgotten songs and promotes their use in movies, third-party compilations, derivative works and digital samples."

Aaron Fuchs

Tuff City/Night Train

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