Question Of The Month


Saturday Mailbox

October 29, 2005

Do you think New Orleans ought to be rebuilt or be left to become a much smaller city? And if it's rebuilt, who should pay the bill? The federal government? The state of Louisiana? The private sector?


UNQUESTIONABLY, THE rebuilding of New Orleans must proceed. In the midst of tragedy, the rebuilding process offers an opportunity for urban, cultural, business and personal renewal on an unprecedented scale.

To leave the city in its current state would undoubtedly lead to urban blight and decline.

The city's core, its heart and appeal to visitors - the French Quarter and Garden District - remain intact.

The goal must be to build out from its cultural core and to create a new vibrant city that retains the best of the old city fused with the hopes, dreams and infrastructure of the future.

Without exception, all levees and canals must be rebuilt so that they can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

Next, all areas of condemned structures must be consolidated into zones for redevelopment.

Government must provide tax incentives for homeowners and enterprise zones for businesses willing to re-establish themselves.

And we should give Louisiana companies preference in rebuilding contracts whenever possible to ensure the jobs and profits stay local.

New Orleans' renaissance, its rebirth, will require the effective cooperation and collaboration of all levels of government and business. Otherwise, it will fail.

Business represents the key part of the equation. It provides the jobs and the all-important nonpublic funds. All levels of government must provide the environment for business to see the potential for rebirth.

And the vast majority of public funds must come from the federal government.

As a nation, we all failed New Orleans, and we all must pay.

Dudley Thompson


Marylanders did not seek to shore up islands in the Chesapeake Bay as they gradually submerged over time. That would have been futile and very expensive, and therefore stupid.

It would be equally stupid to try to halt the course of nature in the Mississippi Delta area.

Much of New Orleans is below sea level, more so now than in the past as a result of poor land management and unwise development.

If the city were to be rebuilt, the first step would be to install effective flood control measures (huge floodgates, a system of dunes, higher and stronger levees).

Only after such a system is in place should new infrastructure be installed and community redevelopment begin.

The timeline for all of this would be at least a decade, and the costs would be astronomical. Even so, those who choose to live in the area would still be at perpetual risk.

High costs and continued risk exposure mitigate against rebuilding New Orleans.

Therefore, those who wish to rebuild the area should do so at their own risk, not that of the taxpayers.

Alice Cherbonnier


Since New Orleans was devastated by the storm, I have spoken with nearly 100 people about the advisability of rebuilding the city. No one I have spoken to is in favor of that action.

This is not because we are without compassion. It is because that would be a senseless and wasteful act.

It has been well publicized that the city is 10 feet to 20 feet below sea level, and sinking. This is simply an untenable situation.

The city has been destroyed, and, if rebuilt, it will be destroyed again - in a complete and colossal waste of time, effort and resources.

Let us use wisdom while exercising our compassion.

Our efforts should go into helping those people who have been displaced by the storm establish a home somewhere else.

Attempts to rebuild the city amount to nothing more than a government boondoggle.

John G. Batson


As a native of New Orleans who lived in New Orleans for the past 44 years, I think that the city should be rebuilt.

New Orleans is a great and lovely city. All parts of the city should be rebuilt, not only downtown and the French Quarter.

The people of New Orleans make it a great city. Members of the business community, professions and skilled and unskilled labor forces all contribute to New Orleans in their special way.

All of the people of New Orleans deserve to have their homes and their community rebuilt.

New Orleans is not just for the rich and tourists. It is for all the family-oriented, good people who have had their homes and community destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The cost of rebuilding New Orleans should be shared by the federal government, the state government and private business.

Harriot Massey


I believe House Speaker Dennis Hastert was right when he said that rebuilding the drowned city of New Orleans at its present site is a fiscally stupid idea.

Since then, that city has suffered a second flooding, and does anyone seriously doubt that this will also happen again and again?

Under these circumstances, I feel that it would be dumb to spend any monies - public or private - on such a doomed venture.

Blaine Taylor


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