[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish holds its kick off for the Private Slab Removal Program funded through Louisiana Land Trust and the Governor's Office

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Aug 17 19:40:00 EDT 2011

St. Bernard Parish holds its kick off for the Private Slab Removal Program
funded through Louisiana Land Trust and the Governor's Office

St. Bernard Parish Government, in conjunction with the Louisiana Land Trust
and the Governor's Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit,
began the first of 100 lots in the Private Slab Removal Pilot Program.

This program is expected to clear between 1,500 and 2,000 slabs of
demolished homes on properties not purchased by Road Home because clearing
the slabs is key to the health and safety and economic recovery of St.
Bernard, St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. said. This
initial program is the pre-cursor to the overall private slab removal
program that should cost around $10 million.

St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. climbed into the
excavator cab and maneuvered the giant piece of machine to gently remove
chunks of concrete from the slab of a structure on Alexander Avenue as
officials gathered to mark the kick off for the Non-Louisiana Land Trust
Private Slab Removal Project, that uses federal funds through the state to
remove slabs from homes not sold to the Road Home in the name of economic

"This marks another major step in our recovery," Taffaro said, after he
climbed down from the excavator. Since Hurricane Katrina, FEMA removed 8,500
structures, but not the slabs.

"In our struggles to take up the slabs, Gov. Jindal continually promised
that he would make sure our cleanup would be complete, and removing the
slabs will give us a change to grow our community. This will complete the
recovery process of totally removing buildings and the slabs so these lots
will be ready for redevelopment."

In the interest of the economic recovery of the parish, the Governor's
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, while he was director of the
Office of Community Development, promised President Taffaro that LLT money
would be set aside for removal of as many non-LLT as possible. As of Aug.
12, 2011, LLT is 99.40% complete in its initial mission in St. Bernard
having removed 4,331 LLT slabs and structures that the state had purchased
through the Road Home program. To date, LLT has spent about $61 million in
removal of slabs and structures and property maintenance and grass cutting.

Pat Forbes, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Community
Development-Disaster Recovery Unit, said this program is a critical
continuation of the process that started with the removal of LLT slabs.

"Recovery takes vision and persistence and St. Bernard has continued to
exhibit both," Forbes said. "The slab removal program is recognized of an
important part of that recovery. The state has committed funds from HUD for
this and other recovery projects across the region."

Michael Taylor, executive director of the Louisiana Land Trust, agreed.

"We are pleased to continue as a partner with St. Bernard Parish," Taylor
said. "With these demolitions and site restorations of non-LLT properties,
this helps to ensure the ongoing recovery effort from the damage caused by
hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005."

Maurice Rankins, the Project Manager for Young's General Contracting which
in charge of the work, promised to impact the neighborhoods as little as

"We will we are going to make this happen as quickly and safely as we can,"
Rankins said. "We are going to good and a safe job, and we want to be
courteous to the neighbors."

Taffaro thanks all of the partners in this project, LLT, the Governor's
Office of Community Development, CDM, who is the program manager; and BBEC,
which assists CDM; as well as Young's General Contracting and his staff
including Chief Administrative Officer Dave Dysart, Housing and
Redevelopment Manager Clay Cosse and Casey Hunnicutt, the program manager in
for the Non-LLT Slab Removal Project.

Taffaro said there are currently about 1,000 right of entries signed, in
which the owner gives the parish the right to enter their property to remove
the slab. Hunnicutt, who is coordinating this effort, is still collecting
forms from residents who are interested in getting their slab removed with
federal dollars. These owners will still own their lot but getting the slab
removed will make it easier to redevelop the lot.

Residents can still sign up to request that their non-LLT slab be removed by
calling St. Bernard Parish Government at 504-278-4238.


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