Officials have reworked a contentious plan for the new East Jefferson Levee District headquarters in an effort to address concerns that the Kenner facility would block access to two nearby cemeteries.
The new proposal comes after residents argued against the earlier plan at a meeting of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which oversees the levee district, earlier this month.
The new plan was approved by a committee made up of members of the Flood Protection Authority and a community representative, the Rev. Robert Tanner.
“Knowing there will not be gates and heavy equipment and everyone will still have access, I’ll call this a fair compromise,” Tanner said.
The new building is planned for an area of south Kenner next to two traditionally African-American burial grounds, the Love and Charity and Belle Grove cemeteries. Neighbors said the original plan, which would have covered several blocks and shut down at least two streets, would have created havoc with funeral processions.
Combined with the noise, heavy equipment and materials such as sand piles they feared would be on the site, those worries caused several dozen residents to voice their concerns at a meeting of the flood authority.
“We’re asking for respect. We’re asking for the will and wishes of the people to be heard, approved and acted on,” resident James Evans said at the time.
There were nine previous versions of the plan for the new headquarters. The most recent would have seen the facility span the blocks between Worth Street and Decatur Street, which fronts on the cemeteries, and would have required the closing of Alton and Warren streets.
Under the revised proposal, the site will largely be contained between Worth Street and Warren Street, though it will include property north of Alton Street, as well, Estopinal said.
That means the Flood Protection Authority no longer needs two of the properties it purchased near the cemeteries. Those properties, which have not yet been appraised, will be auctioned off, authority President Stephen Estopinal said.
The proceeds of the sale could bring down the price of the project, he said.
That area to be sold would have been used largely for storage, which will now be moved off-site, Estopinal said. He said the plans never called for storing sand or other materials that can create dust on the site, a concern that some residents had raised.
The proposal must still be approved by the full board of the Flood Protection Authority.
The new headquarters has been in the works for years, as officials have sought to consolidate the various facilities that now house the levee district’s staff and equipment.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.