Nonprofit’s cultural facility proposal fails to receive City Planning Commission recommendation
With no recommendation from City Planning Commission, the City Council will decide whether to allow a permit for a cultural facility to the blighted property on 4918 Warrington Drive, owned by Levees.org. The proposal failed to receive at least five votes out of six, but one Commissioner of City Planning wasn’t in attendance, until right after the zoning docket had already been voted on.
Levees.org plans to stabilize the structure with building code, reconstruct the first two rooms as a replica of a flood damaged room, and only visitors to view the monument from the exterior only.
City Planning staff believed the cultural facility should be compatible with residences around the neighborhood and recommended approval. The public hearing at City Council took place on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
“It is our hope that the City Planning Commission sees that as a city it is our responsibility to preserve, what probably is the last remaining relic of the flood of 2005, which is an actual house, in its actual location that could be preserved for our children’s children, as a lasting memory to the worst civil engineering disaster in our nation’s history, and it is our hope that the City Planning Commission agrees with the City Planning staff in approving this recommendation,” Rosenthal said.
Mirabeau gardens residents Brandon Winchester and Erica Winchester spoke in front of the City Planning Commission in opposition to the property obtaining a cultural facility permit.
“I’m against the zoning change for multiple reasons; one is security,” Brandon Winchester said. “And the next is I don’t think the neighborhood is designed for us to have buses coming in, parking. All of these are concerns in the residential neighborhood. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for some time, and I’ve seen where we’ve had buses or a lot of people walking on the street, and I don’t see security for it.”
Erica Winchester followed up on acknowledging a security concern for the quiet neighborhood and suggested that the monument be relocated.
“Furthermore, as Ms. Rosenthal mentioned, it is something that we need to memorialize and commemorate, but I believe that the museum should be placed in an art or museum or district,” Erica Winchester said.
Rosenthal had time to present a rebuttal. She said that Carmen Owens, who has lived directly across the street from the property on Warrington Drive has probably given the best testimony of all on the people who come to visit. According to Rosenthal, Owens and her have observed people come visit the home in deep respect, such as visiting Ground Zero. Rosenthal said visitors don’t cause any trouble and just move on.
Robert M. Steeg, Vice Chair of the City Planning Commission, spoke in favor of Rosenthal and her nonprofit’s monument use.
“I believe that the project will be done in an incredibly sensitive manner,” Steeg said. “It’s something that’s needed and will be valuable, and I’m confident that the project won’t be an obstruction in the neighborhood and hopefully will be an addition.”