Proposed subdivision of historic property causes controversy in Carrollton

It’s rare that something as mundane as the subdivision of a residential lot gets much attention, but a proposal to sell and divide a historic property in the Carrollton area has led to protests from neighbors who want the land to be saved. The controversy concerns a lot on 914 Dante Street that holds a six-unit apartment building, plus a side yard with several mature, leafy trees. According to Susan Johnson of  the watchdog organization Town of Carrollton Watch, who has been researching the property, the lot was the site of a Union Army hospital during the Civil War. That hospital was later destroyed, possibly in a fire. The current structure was once home to F.C. Zeller, the mayor of the town of Carrollton before it became part of New Orleans. 

Riverlake Properties, the property owner, plans to request permission from the city to divide the lot into two.

Uptown running club emerges during pandemic year

Just before 9 a.m. on Sunday (April 11), a group of about 40 people gathered in one of Audubon Park’s fields near Magazine Street. Most of the group were in their 20s or 30s, but ages ranged from 4 up to 72. Some had a dog in tow. They are The NOLA Running Anoles, and they can now prove it. The president of the 7-month-old running club, Doug Crochet, distributed T-shirts to the members as they showed up that morning, and they were eager to change into their new shirts designed by local artist Alex Beard.

Students revitalize community gardens around Broadmoor

Broadmoor is coming into full bloom this spring as the Broadmoor Improvement Association and Tulane students lead efforts to revitalize three local community gardens. Two of the gardens – the Food Forest on Toledano Street near Dorgenois Street and another produce patch at the Broadmoor Community Church – will produce fresh herbs and vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. A rain garden at South Miro and Gen. Taylor streets will help mitigate flooding and beautify the area with native plants like cattails, cypress trees and irises. 

The goal of the gardens is simple: “We grow food and we nurture plants to bring people together,” said Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot, a professor of ecology and biology at Tulane University. Cheruiyot’s students are working as busily as bees in the Broadmoor gardens each week as part of internships and classes related to urban agroecology, as well as an additional garden at the New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. But the ultimate goal is to recruit neighborhood volunteers so that the lots will truly be sustainable community gardens, with an emphasis on the community.

How junction boxes on Uptown neutral grounds are transformed from blight to works of art

As Uptown resident Ivana Dillas drove home from work every day along Louisiana Avenue, she noticed how the junction boxes on the neutral ground attracted tags and graffiti and were surrounded by litter. “Studies have shown that neighborhood beautification reduces these unsightly activities, as well as crime,”  Dillas said. 

She saw the website address for Community Visions Unlimited, the organization behind the beautification initiative, written on painted boxes elsewhere and contacted them. She asked how she could help, especially along the Louisiana Avenue corridor. “I loved the idea of putting artists to work, and I began fundraising and directing donors to the CVU website,” Dillas said. Then Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who had supported the project when she was on the City Council, got wind of the effort, and her office stepped in with a significant donation. The section of Louisiana Avenue now has almost all of the junction boxes painted. 

Two of the Louisiana Avenue boxes, the “Horn Players” at Baronne and “The Dancers” at Carondelet, were painted by Linda LeBoeuf, the artist behind 39 art boxes citywide.

Tulane study to examine role of racial injustice in design of memorials and monuments

By Barri Bronston, Tulane University

Researchers from the Tulane University School of Architecture and the School of Science and Engineering are embarking on a project that they hope answers questions about racial injustice and its impact on the design of urban spaces, monuments and memorials. The project, “Public Space and Scrutiny: Examining Urban Monuments Through Social Psychology,” won a 2020 SOM Foundation Research Prize, created by the architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill to advance the design profession’s ability to address the world’s most critical issues. “With fewer than one in five new architects identifying as racial or ethnic minorities, our profession has some catching up to do if we intend to reflect the public for whom urban spaces are designed,” said Tiffany Lin, an associate professor of architecture. “This project proposes a study of existing public spaces, monuments, and memorials through the lens of social psychology in order to establish a broader frame of reference for future design.”

Lin will be conducting the study with Emilie Taylor Welty, professor of practice at the School of Architecture, and social psychologist Lisa Molix, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the School of Science and Engineering. The team will use an interdisciplinary approach to study how members of the community react to public spaces and monuments that memorialize contentious historical figures and events.

Iconic pavilion at The Fly is without its sail-like canopy

 Who even calls the stretch of greenspace overlooking the Mississippi River “Audubon Riverview Park”? But that is its official name. The current pavilion in the park everyone refers to as “The Fly” has a history dating back more than 25 years. 

That structure, officially named “A Stage for Viewing,” was damaged in October’s Hurricane Zeta in October, and the process of replacing its shredded roof is still in play. 

It’s this structure’s predecessor that gave the stretch of land by the river its name. Few today can remember the original building that people thought resembled a butterfly. So the park gained the nickname “The Butterfly,” which was then shortened to “The Fly.”  The building, which housed concessions and restrooms, was actually supposed to resemble gull wings.

Audubon Zoo is recycling strands of holiday lights to aid wildlife

New Orleanians will be dragging their Christmas trees to the curb for coastal restoration after Jan. 6. but what all those strands of lights? Most holiday lights are not bio-degradable — and they are dangerous to animals that can get tangled in the strands. You can make a positive impact on the natural world by recycling your lights and keeping them out of the landfill.

Street Renaming Commission to host meeting for recommendations, public feedback

General Ogden, Palmer, Leonidas, and Calhoun are a few Uptown streets that may have new names soon. The City Council Street Renaming Commission — established to make recommendations for renaming streets, parks and places that honor members of the Confederacy and active proponents of segregation — will host a public meeting this Wednesday (Dec. 16) to discuss the findings and recommendations listed in its initial report. Here, the community can give additional feedback before the commission delivers its final report to the council in the coming weeks. The virtual public meeting will start around 4 p.m., immediately following the commission’s meeting that begins at 3 p.m. The meeting will be accessible via livestream on the council’s YouTube channel here  and on the council’s website.

Paradigm Gardens offers bumper crop of activities on Sunday mornings

The Paradigm Gardens Plant Sale, held Sunday mornings in the shadow of the Pontchartrain Expressway in Central City, offers not just pots of herbs and tomatoes but a chance to enjoy an outdoor, socially distanced brunch and concert. The brunch on Sunday (Oct. 11) included food from Coquette restaurant and the vocal stylings of Robin Barnes. Plus, goats — all in a gorgeous garden. The sale of the plants and brunch items helps finance the Paradigm Gardens School — the only K-12 garden school in Louisiana.