COMMENTARY FROM NEW ORLEANS MAGAZINE’S ERROL LABORDE: If I were Mayor of New Orleans Part2: A Letter to the Veterans Administration
IF I WERE MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS, pt. 2: A LETTER TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
Last week in this space, I proposed a letter from a hypothetical mayor to the Archbishop, with regard to church closings. This week the issue is the Veterans Administration Hospital. Any mayors who would like to use either of the letters may do so.
As mayor I am writing to strongly endorse the proposal to build and locate your hospital on Canal Street adjacent to the planned LSU medical facility. The co-existence of the two facilities would not only be the keystone to the medical center but would anchor what will certainly be a downtown revival unlike anything experienced in most American cities.
I know that there have been other proposals lately; one is to locate your facility in the abandoned Mercy/ Lindy Boggs hospital complex in Mid-City. As mayor I share the pain with residents of that neighborhood who would like to see a hospital returned there. I would too, but one that would be open to the full population not just to those qualified for Veterans assistance. An undercurrent to the proposal is concern about some architecturally significant homes that might be demolished to make way for the Canal Street location. I would urge, and my administration will help in any way it can, to have those homes moved to other locations.
As you know, cities are filled with painful examples of places where homes were removed without proper planning and thought. That includes the Mercy/Lindy Boggs complex where three blocks along Bienville Street were razed. The site is now a series of parking lots that are not used. My administration takes the demolition and removal of significant homes seriously, but sometimes, we know, it needs to happen.
As mayor, I pledge to stand solidly behind you in your efforts to build at the Canal Street area location. Count on me whenever I can help with testimony before any decision-making bodies. I also promise to have my administration move quickly with any eminent domain issues.
In return, I urge speed toward beginning construction. Not only is the project necessary for the help of our veterans but also for the health of our city. This hospital is, perhaps, THE major element of the recovery. There will be obstacles, but we will charge this hill together.
Let us know what you think. Any comments about this article? Write to email@example.com. For the subject line use VA HOSPITAL. All responses are subject to being published, as edited, in this newsletter. Please include your name and location.
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