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City Council Regular Meeting News Summary June 22, 2017

July 13, 2017

NEW ORLEANS - At today's meeting, the Council received presentations from representatives of the Oretha Castle Haley Merchant Business Association and Son of a Saint, authorized additional funding toward the planning and construction of the Algiers Fire Station and approved an ordinance to provide for the continued operation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Community Resource and Referral Center located on Gravier Street. Additionally, the Council postponed its vote on Resolution No. R-17-383 on coastal restoration.



Oretha Castle Haley Merchant Business Association Receives 2017 Main Street America Award

As the first order of business today, the Council received a video presentation from the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard Merchants and Business Association (OCHBMBA) on its 2017 Main Street America Award and detailing its work in restoring the neighborhood post-hurricane Katrina. During the annual Main Street Now National Conference in May, the National Main Street Center awarded OCHBMBA for their exceptional work in implementing the Main Street Approach to revitalize Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in New Orleans. The 2017 GAMSA competition featured a strong group of semi-finalists from 10 communities, including Berlin, MD; Cedar Rapids, IA; Chillicothe, MO; Columbus, GA; Covington, KY; Goldsboro, NC; Los Alamos, NM; New Orleans, LA; Wausau, WI; and West Chester, PA. "The merchants of Oretha Castle Haley uphold a rich culture that truly represents the heart and soul of the City of New Orleans," said District "B" Councilmember Cantrell. "The progress you've made is incredible, but we still have work to do and will continue our efforts to ensure the continued growth and success of this area." The OCHBMBA began its work in the 1990s when they first developed a strategic plan to revitalize the Boulevard. As a result of OCHBMBA's significant investment in the corridor, the Boulevard has made an impressive comeback following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, formerly known as Dryades Street, is on its way to once again becoming a beacon for culture, history, commerce and more. "The use of public resource investment and private philanthropic investment in this area is something the rest of the country should emulate," said Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head. "We started with a lot of blight, very few homes, very few renters and almost no businesses. I have to say thank you for being there and never letting up. It was a tiny bit at a time, but you've worked tirelessly to make OC Haley what it is today - an incredible place to work and live."


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Son of a Saint Presents to the Council

The Council welcomed Bivian "Sonny" Lee III and Lauren Darnell from Son of a Saint for a presentation on their organization and its work to enhance the lives of fatherless young men in New Orleans. Sonny Lee serves as the founder and director of the Son of a Saint program, which helps provide mentorship and guidance to boys growing up without fathers around the New Orleans area. Lee said he started the program six years ago and it continues to grow. "I grew up fatherless, which is why I started this program for boys and young men facing similar struggles," said Lee. "But it doesn't stop with just the boys. We also support their mothers, brothers and their entire families. We have about 60 boys in the program and what's beautiful about it is that they start at age 10 and are with us until they're 18 - they become our family." Son of a Saint equips young men with the tools they need to become productive members of society and requires that they maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA, complete four hours of community service each month and maintain good conduct at home, school and within the Son of a Saint organization. They provide a plethora of services including mental health counseling, recreational activities, group mentorship sessions, travel opportunities, tutoring, scholarships and tuition assistance. "About 65 percent of the boys in the program have lost fathers from murder and another 25 percent from long-term incarceration," said Lee. "There's a lot of challenges that we deal with, but we're not going anywhere. We add about 20 boys a year to our program. Our point is to foster an environment where our boys can grow, become leaders in their communities and come back to us full circle as men to mentor the next generation." Son of a Saint will host its fifth annual gala for the program on December 1, 2017, to raise funds and honor those in the program who have excelled. "It is better to build strong children than to try and repair broken men," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "A number of programs around town say they're for the kids, but you look into the eyes of some of those kids, and you don't always see that. When you look into the eyes of any one of your boys, you see light and hope. Thank you so much for the work you're doing and will continue to do for our families."



 

Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Resource and Referral Center Ordinance Approved

The Council voted to authorize the Mayor to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City and the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) to provide for the continued operation of the Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) located at 1530 Gravier St. in New Orleans. CRRC's are strategically placed facilities that provide a resource hub to ensure that Veterans and all homeless citizens in the region have convenient and timely access to an expanded array of housing and health care services. The CRRC at Gravier Street was established in 2013 as a partnership between the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System (SLVHCS) and the City of New Orleans as part of the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. In March 2017, Mayor Mitch Landrieu in partnership with the Downtown Development District (DDD), State and Federal officials and local service providers announced plans to expand homeless services at the center including 100 new overnight shelter beds. This ordinance will allow for ongoing operational funding for the shelter.

 

Council Postpones Vote on Coastal Restoration Resolution

The Council deferred its vote on Resolution No. R-17-383 pertaining to coastal restoration. The resolution, authored by Councilmember Williams, addresses the importance of restoring the Louisiana coast and the responsibility that oil and gas companies have to repair past and current damage. "We do not have to accept full destruction of our coastline as inevitable," said Councilmember Williams prior to the start of today's meeting. "We can make significant strides today and in the days following to fortify the future of our region. The coast is a dynamic, living system which, with necessary investment and care, can survive this downward spiral. We must build consensus and a strong coalition with all stakeholders on this issue."

 

 
  
 

Oretha Castle Haley Merchant Business Association Receives 2017 Main Street America Award

Son of a Saint Presents to the Council

Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Resource and Referral Center Ordinance Approved

Council Postpones Vote on Coastal Restoration Resolution

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Information presented by the New Orleans City CouncilDavid S. Gavlinski, Interim Chief of StaffCouncil Information (504) 658-1000Clerk of Council (504) 658-1085
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