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City Council Regular Meeting News Summary May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

NEW ORLEANS - At today's meeting, the Council recognized the successful businesses of the New Orleans Regional Business Park, heard a presentation from the Preservation Hall Foundation and adopted a motion approving the City Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing for the construction of a new 89-bed prison facility for the mentally ill.

Additionally, the Council approved enhanced public safety measures in the French Quarter, adopted a resolution establishing NOLA Star Life Day to honor EMS workers and welcomed Ms. Velma Magee in celebration of her 101st birthday.



City Council Recognizes the Success of the New Orleans Regional Business Park

Today, the Council received a presentation from Chris Bonura, Board Chairman of the New Orleans Regional Business Park (NORBP), highlighting the successful businesses currently located and operating within the Park.

Created in 1979, the mission of the NORBP is to advocate and facilitate the acquisition, development and maintenance of critical infrastructure and resources necessary to support and nurture the growth of current businesses and the development of new businesses.

Through its board of commissioners, it can acquire, construct, improve, and maintain projects as well as provide additional municipal services to businesses that choose to locate in New Orleans.

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Preservation Hall Foundation Presentation

The Council heard a presentation from Greg Lucas of the Preservation Hall Foundation detailing its history, present activities and future plans. Established in 2011, the Foundation supports music education, academic research, historical archiving and promotional outreach campaigns to create greater awareness and appreciation for traditional New Orleans jazz and the communities that support it. Its mission is "to protect, preserve, and perpetuate the musical traditions and heritage of New Orleans."

"It's an honor to be a part of New Orleans and its thriving cultural economy," said Lucas. "We're currently developing a music education curriculum that we plan to take nationally next school year."

Preservation Hall is open and thriving 360 days a year, with the exception of Mardi Gras. Its primary activity is developing educational programming that serves troubled areas in the city without music education programs in their schools.

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Plans for New Facility to Accommodate Mentally Ill Inmates Approved

A motion was passed by the Council to advance a proposed 89-bed expansion of the Orleans Justice Center to accommodate the mentally ill inmate population. Three motions representing two alternative plans were brought before the Council for consideration, which directed the City Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing regarding the construction of a new facility versus retrofitting the fourth floor of the existing jail in an effort to halt expansion.

The Council passed an amendment, introduced by Councilmember Guidry, that directs the City Planning Commission to also include into its study, the option of taking away and/or re-purposing the 89 beds currently located in the jail to accommodate for the beds added as part of the new facility. With this amendment, the Council reached an agreement and passed the motion advocating for the construction of the new building for the mentally ill.

The first plan conceived by Compliance Director Maynard at the request of the Mayor was supported by Councilmembers Ramsey, Brossett and Gray and the second was submitted by Councilmembers Cantrell and Guidry. "Plan A", as it was referred to by the Council, advocated for the construction of the new 89-bed mental health facility and "Plan B" proposed keeping open an option to retrofit the current Orleans Justice Center.

The City Council passed an ordinance in 2011 which allowed Sheriff Marlin Gusman to build the 1,438-bed jail. The ordinance stated the jail should accommodate inmates with substance abuse and mental health treatment needs, with the exception of those with the worst, "acute" conditions. However, since its opening in September 2015, the jail has lacked the necessary space to care for those mentally ill prisoners. As a result, the City houses 39 mentally ill prisoners at a state prison in St. Gabriel. Sheriff's Office administrator and newly court-ordered compliance director, Gary Maynard said that the new building would allow them to bring these inmates back.

"We must develop a plan that aligns our work and our words to end the current practices of over-incarceration plaguing our City and state," said District "A" Councilmember Susan Guidry. "We owe it to our community to look at all the options and all the alternatives before coming to a conclusion on this issue."

If recommended by the Commission, and adopted later by the Council, the new facility will be built as an extension of the current complex located in the First Municipal District, bounded by Interstate Highway 10, South Broad Street, Perdido Street, and South Jefferson Davis Parkway, which is on the lot between Phases I and II of the prison complex.

"We have a moral obligation and a consent decree that requires we humanely house the inmates at the Orleans Justice Center who have mental health needs," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "Society does not have a plan for serving the mentally ill and we need one. Jail is not mental health treatment. Phase III must not and will not become the treatment center for the City of New Orleans."

 

French Quarter Safety Measures Passed

Following the French Quarter Economic Development meeting on May 4, 2017, the Council voted to pass an ordinance that authorizes the Mayor to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and French Quarter Management District (the FQMD) for the provision of financial resources that enhance public safety, services and infrastructure in the French Quarter.

 

NOLA Star Life Day Established to Honor EMS Workers

The Council voted to adopt a resolution establishing the first Monday in the third week of May as NOLA Star Life Day, honoring EMS staff for the tireless work they do for the people of New Orleans in their greatest times of need.

These men and women provide a vital service in connecting the City's citizens and visitors to high quality, pre-hospital emergency care in addition to transporting patients to hospitals throughout the City.

The resolution gives special recognition to EMS workers for the exemplary service they provide to the homeless population and the important role they played in assisting those affected by the New Orleans East tornado.

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City Council Recognizes the Success of the New Orleans Regional Business Park

Preservation Hall Foundation Presentation

Plans for New Facility to Accommodate Mentally Ill Inmates Approved

French Quarter Safety Measures Passed

NOLA Star Life Day Established to Honor EMS Workers

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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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