I just got back from the District 2 Needs & Goals kick-off meeting with H3 Studio. A few quick thoughts:

Their slide presentation suggested that they’ve already compiled a lot of information about the district, its neighborhood groups (besides the “official” eight city-defined neighborhoods they’ve identified 28 actual functioning groups), and plans for particular areas that are already in existence, both pre- and post-Katrina. H3 principal John Hoal indicated several times that this information would be on “the website,” which, when I asked about it later, proved to be the UNOP site. No luck with that yet, unless it’s squirreled away somewhere pretty clever. The too predictable Deliverables & Support Documents page is still “coming soon” as of this post. Too bad, because it really does look like they’ve been doing they’re homework, including walking every foot of sidewalk and driving every street in the district. The maps they produced for their slideshow, of the varying conditions of streets, sidewalks, housing, etc would be great resources. H3′s own website was, sadly, one of those Flash affairs (I had to download an upgrade just to see it at all) that amounts to nothing more than a set of incredibly fancy lists. There are some teasers of maps and renderings that show up when you hover over the lists, but no links to close-ups, at least not in Firefox. It’s also completely unsearchable. It’s frustrating to see such an incredible potential information source so overdesigned and – I was going to say underutilized – but it’s really flat-out unutilized.

It was good to see key members of the planning team in attendence and leading the proceedings, including John Hoal, Derek Hoeferlin and Laura Lyon. Besides the slide presentation on the course of the UNOP meetings to come and on the research H3 et al have done to date, the rest of the session was devoted to small groups reviewing the Needs, Vision and Goals already collected by H3, and then selecting their top three concerns from those listed or their own devising. There was a lot of consensus when the small groups reported back – I guess we’re not a very contentious lot around here, fortunately. Crime, schools, decent affordable housing in historically appropriate styles (rehabilitated historic homes wherever possible), community health care, and closing the above/below St. Charles divide were big hits, but the applause-winning show-stopper was actual enforcement of existing zoning. All valid and interesting enough, but a bit on the woolly side – who’s pro-crime or anti-education? The devil is in the details, after all (hence, I think, the support for enforcing zoning), and we’re still a long way from knowing how and when those will be developed and implemented.

2 Responses to “District 2 Planning – Needs and Goals Day”

  1. Slimbolala Says:

    My wife was at that meeting. Her impression was sort of generally positive, though she was a little disappointed at the underwhelming turnout from Central City and from our Milan neighborhood.

    (And there should be a moratorium on Flash. Every artist, designer, and generally fancy aesthetic type seems to feel compelled to use it — wasting my precious time with little swoops and “loading” animations — when 99% of the time, plain old HTML would be adequate and preferable. No Flash for two years. Then, very limited usage will be permitted, but only when absolutely necessary, and closely monitored by the Flash Advisory Board.)

  2. becky Says:

    Count me in on a Flash moratorium and advisory board. FAB…not bad…

    I have a guarded optimism about the planners’ themselves, although I’m still pretty frustrated with the UNOP itself. It was a little weird being in a room full of mainly drylanders (including myself) while Milan and Central City need the most attention and resources – I know that’s partly because there are fewer people able to live in much of Milan and Central City, but I think poor outreach and meetings that change time and place aren’t helping matters much.