Thursday, October 23, 2008

FEMA is a four letter word

The Lyon's Center on the corner of Tchoup and Louisiana is in my neighborhood and since Katrina, people have been paying more attention to it. The latest saga of the park: FEMA, after being pressured by the City Council, laid new sod at the park after removing the FEMA trailers. The sod was looking good, kids were playing on the fields ect. Then one day it was locked. Here's what we found out (this put together from two emails).

I just got off of the phone with Keith J. Wright, deputy director of NORD. He returned my call asking about why the Lyons Center baseball field was locked. He explained that FEMA has not released the property back to the city. Apparently the locks on the gates are a measure taken either by FEMA directly or the contractor who is handling the refurbishment of the park to protect the sod and allow it to take hold on the field as well as to protect the park from vandalism. (There was an instance where some kids were in the park and a pipe was broken and had to be repaired.)

I asked Mr. Wright when we could expect to have our park back and he said that it was supposed to happen in October, but with the storms we have had that date has been extended. Mr. Wright could not give me a firm date, but expects us to be able to use the park again in the next few months.
. . .

I just spoke with Keith Wright at NORD (658-3000). In substance, I am told that I cannot write to this mysterious person at FEMA who is holding our neighborhood's field hostage. Mr. Wright assured me he would call and voice my concerns, but politely refused to tell me who at FEMA had the authority to go to the field, see that the sod has taken root and open our field back to the public.
Apparently, the "official" turnover date from FEMA to NORD has not occurred (and no one seems to know what this date is), and when the water main was vandalized, the contractor (who had left the field unlocked after laying the sod) was required by FEMA to repair the damages. So, the contractor understandably has locked the field pending FEMA's decision to turn it over to NORD.

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