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New Orleans City Business

By Ariella Cohen, Staff Writer 

NEW ORLEANS - A former chairman of the New Orleans City Planning Commission today refuted claims by the NAACP that a change in the city charter slated to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot could lead planners to transform predominantly black neighborhoods into parkland.

“It is beyond belief that the some of the leadership of the African-American community are misinformed, spreading misinformation and putting gross ignorance of the planning process on display by making (such) claims,” the Rev. Marshall Truehill Jr., who is black, said in a written statement released hours after a statement from the New Orleans chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The proposed change to the city charter would put the force of law behind a master plan now being hashed out in a series of public meetings. The citywide land use plan is expected to be done next year and will incorporate input gleaned at recent public meetings and through the Unified New Orleans Plan written after Hurricane Katrina.

The NAACP statement blasted the proposed charter change as an attempt by elites to redraw neighborhoods and potentially “turn our neighborhoods into ‘green spaces’ and prevent our families, friends and neighbors from returning to our city.”

“In addition to the possibility that the plan could reduce the footprint our neighborhoods, the ramification of the proposal has not been adequately discussed with members of the community. Therefore, the community cannot make an informed vote,” said New Orleans NAACP President Danatus King, an attorney.

Truehill defended the master plan as a chance for residents to insure the scenario painted by King does not happen.

“I submit we will eventually lose Central City, Gert Town, Lower Nine and other predominantly black neighborhoods unless we do something now,” he said.

Truehill said planners were continuing to educate neighborhoods about the implications of a charter change. He said the process could not stop in order to wait for everyone to attend meetings.


September 2006