Confessions Of A Neighborhood Leader Part Two

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 18:42:42

In the springtime a young man’s fancy turns to…meetings? Nope. But if I wanted to I could attend one every night. Trust me I don’t want to: twice a week is the max for me. Last night’s meeting was however a biggie; it was a follow-up meeting about the ugly  condo project in my neighborhood that I posted about a few weeks back: Confessions Of A Neighborhood Leader and Who Says You Can’t Fight City Hall.

The developers have actually scaled back the project somewhat. They’ve abandoned (for now) their attempt to get a height variance: the limit for residences is 40 feet and they were originally asking  for 52 which is the height of the church. Churches are of course customarily taller than houses; just as basketball players are taller than jockeys…

The architect dialed his hostility back this time and looked and acted more like Wallace Shawn than Don Rickles. His face didn’t look like a clenched fist at least and he didn’t insult me this time either. The rough sketches he showed us were an improvement but still not worthy of supporting. I really didn’t expect them to make *any* concessions so I’m pleased BUT they still want to build 16 units which is way too many.  I told the developer that if he really wanted neighborhood support that he’d have to build as few units as possible while still making a profit.  He claimed to be receptive. We shall see…

There was a bit of shouting during the meeting by some of the older residents of the hood. I understand why: they’re worried about paying higher property taxes while living on a fixed income. Also one of them loves the sound of his own voice so he can be counted on to bloviate whenever and wherever possible. New Orleanians are a talkative lot and he’s chatty even for a local. There was an elderly black creole gent present who once told me about his solution to the drug dealers who used to pop up on our street corners like mushrooms: “Grab them all up put them on a tiny island and let them kill each other off.” An unsubtle solution but it has the virtue of being direct…

A fun moment for me at least was when the usually calm Dr. A rhetorically bipped the developer upside the head over one of his more dubious claims about his plans pre-K. He had a lot of support in the area for 4-6 condos in a renovated church and that’s what he told her he planned to do when they spoke. His reply: “Katrina changed everything.” Hmm does that sound familiar y’all?

After the meeting I decided to play good cop so I chatted up the developers and architects. I’m not sure how much farther they’ll move in our direction but I wanted them to know that I knew that they’d taken some baby steps towards us. Besides I have to play good cop because the President of the other neighborhood association is a specialist at playing bad cop; not a bad thing in this instance actually.  As usual I’m annoyed with him for NOT telling me that the meeting was open to the public: I was told it was just for the boards and directly impacted residents. That’s why I didn’t invite my posse. The great communicator he is not….Oh well you can’t pick your allies and we *do* agree on this one.

Finally my friend Harvard Boy who is the Veep of our neighborhood association came to the meeting. He’s a bit more optimistic about the developers willingness to compromise than I am which makes him the *really* good cop. He’s no fool though just someone who has wants to see something done with the decaying crumbling church before it collapses.

Harvard Boy informed me that his lovely clever and charming fiancee the Scad Grad has been giving him a hard time for reading my blog every day. I am mock devastated y’all. I saw her outside their house after the meeting and stuck the needle in. She said that she was a blogophobe. In short she’s telling me:  it’s not you it’s me. Hmm where have I heard that one before?

That’s okay R I guess I won’t give y’all a leather bound edition of the Best Of Adrastos as a wedding present then. Not that one exists mind you but the spirit of April Fool’s Day is in the air…


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