DHS Seal - FEMA    
FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Section 106 Review of Interior Rehabilitation; New Addition Construction; and Demolition of Outbuildings and Custodial Lodge
Audubon-Montessori School, 428 Broadway Street, New Orleans, LA
Applicant: Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB)
Seeking Public Comment
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Name: Phil Vanderyken
City: New Orleans, LA
Audubon School, uptown New Orleans
Comments: I'm a home owner living two blocks from Audubon School. Me and my wife have lived in the neighborhood since 2001. Our son spent his teenage years here.
The proposed renovation will dramatically change the school's footprint and the impact on the surrounding neighborhood. The school population will increase significantly. There are already tremendous traffic problems with the school as it is. The proposed building will take away light from the surrounding houses and be, to put it in plain English, ugly. A big concrete box that has nothing to do with the historic character of the Black Pearl. School windows will look right into the adjoining houses. There is also a significant danger to the old oak trees that surround the school.

Very few attempts were made to involve the neighborhood in the planning of this renovation. Meetings that were held at the school were completely under-publicized. We only found out about it by accident. There is a nebulous organisation involved in this process that's supposed to act as a gobetween between Audubon, FEMA and the neighborhood. Their only agenda seems to be to push this renovation through at all costs regardless of the neighborhood.
There was talk of turning our street-Garfield- into a one way street and restricting parking. We have three senior citizens and one disabled person on our block. Their lives would be severely impacted by such a change. Again, we only found out about this by accident, since NO ATTEMPT AT ALL was made to consult the people living on Garfield Street. There is talk by Audubon of doing a 'traffic study' to 'show the impact on the neighborhood'. It should be obvious that such a study will show whatever Audubon/NOSchool board will want it to show. How about you talk to the people that actually LIVE here instead?
Our so-called neighborhood association UTNA has been putting their support behind the renovation claiming 'the neighborhood is in favor of this' when they don't represent our neighborhood AT ALL. They are an organisation of mostly white newcomers, real estate professionals who only care about property values and try to impose their will on this historically mixed neighborhood.
Attempts were made by concerned citizens from our neighborhood as well as the adjoining Upper Audubon neighborhood to come to a memorandum of understanding with Audubon. A meeting was held during which all parties seemed to agree to a basic compromise. However when it came time to put this compromise in writing Audubon made excuses and nothing was ever put in writing. Audubon has a history of ignoring the neighborhood's input. We cannot take their word for it and assume that they will act in good faith. Their whole attitude appears to be 'we're gonna do what we want, and the neighborhhood be damned'.
For these reasons me and my wife oppose the renovation of Audubon. Finally, FEMA needs to do a much better job of publicizing this comments board. Again, I only found out about this by accident. Nobody will post comments if they don't know about this website. I can't help but be suspicious that this is a ploy to claim that 'the neighborhood doesn't have any objections because nobody posted any comments'. Because nobody knows about the comment board!