VAMC Scoping Meeting Notes

From Virginia Blanque:
Thanks to everyone who attended the public scoping meeting hosted by the VA on Monday August 11th. The purpose of this meeting was to seek public input on VA’s consideration of the Lindy Boggs site for their new Medical Center. There were more than 300 people in attendance (by my estimate), and approximately 30 people made comments or asked questions. I continue to be impressed by the insight, engagement and passion that Mid-City residents and business owners bring to the table regarding issues of recovery.
Presentations were made by VA, Victory Real Estate Investors, Dr. Ed Blakely, Councilmember Midura and Councilmember Head. This was followed by more than 90 minutes of comments and questions from the audience.
Some of the facts that were established:
* The Lindy Boggs site as offered by Victory is 39.8 acres, spanning from Jeff Davis to Carrollton, and from Bienville Avenue to Toulouse Street which is a light industrial and medical use zone.
*The Lindy Boggs site was offered as a response to the Section 106 meetings, in which any viable alternative sites can be proposed.
*The Victory offering excludes the city block that Mid-City Center sits on. It excludes the properties that Victory owns south of Bienville and West of Carrollton Avenue.
*The VA’s premise for the project is a 1.1 million square foot medical complex including a hospital and outpatient clinics spread over the ~17 block area. The tallest building would be the hospital at 6-7 stories. The VA refers to the design of the medical center as “campus-style”.
*The existing Lindy Boggs Hospital and office building is approximately 500,000 square feet on 2 city blocks.
*The total square footage of existing buildings (hospital, offices, warehouses, retail) on the proposed site is 980,000 square feet.
* Dr. Ed Blakely stated that the City will not assist VA in any way if they choose the Lindy Boggs site. The package of CDBG funds and other incentives offered by the City would not be offered for this site.
*Residents of Mid-City/Lower Mid-City who spoke at the meeting were overwhelmingly in favor of the Lindy Boggs site.
*Veterans who spoke at the meeting are in favor of whatever decision will get them quality healthcare in New Orleans faster. They are suffering from the lack of available quality care at this time.
Some additional information that was not presented in the Scoping Meeting but has been discussed either directly with Victory/VA or in the Section 106 meetings:
*VA is aware of the plans for the Lafitte Corridor Greenway. They have invited Friends of Lafitte Corridor to join the Section 106 process as a Consulting Party. There initial response was that they liked the idea of this planned greenspace and could work with it in their design.
*Victory has stated that if the project goes through at the Lindy Boggs site, they have arranged for Rouse’s to move across the street to the Bohn Ford site with new construction. We have not yet independently confirmed this with Rouse’s.
*VA confirmed that they are able to move forward with the project without funding from the City.
*LSU confirmed that they will move forward with their plans for a downtown location even if VA chooses the Lindy Boggs site.
*National Trust stated the Lindy Boggs site would NOT require the more extensive EIS (environmental impact study) that the RPC site.
*Lindy Boggs site would not require the demolition of a single home because there none in the footprint.
*Aside from the Downtown site and the Lindy Boggs site, there are two other options that VA is considering: Ochsner site in Jefferson Parish and No Action (meaning they would not build a large Medical Center in the area).
Latest articles:
TP: Letter to the editor in today’s paper
TP: Hearing tackles VA med center location
Advocate: N.O. crowd protests VA hospital site
for maps and additional information:
Again, thank you for participating in the Federal process of a public hearing on the topic. It aligns with our Mid-City Plan which is why we support it for healthcare and economics.
Virginia Blanque
VP, Mid-City Neighborhood Organization

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