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  NEW TOWNS
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2007
 

Gulf Coast Watch



Gannett News Service reports that bureaucratic delays and a spat between Mississippi and Louisiana have stalled release of federal money the two states need to move Hurricane Katrina victims into Katrina Cottages and other permanent homes. Meanwhile, people outside the Gulf Coast have expressed interest in using the cottages for everything from vacation homes to ski lodges to military housing, according to California-based Housing International, which manufactures some of the homes.

That means families living hundreds of miles from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans may move into the storm-proof cottages months before most Katrina victims do. Katrina Cottages’ steel construction can protect against earthquakes in Calif., as well as hurricanes in the Gulf Coast. Local governments also are interested in the houses as part of urban renewal plans.

Housing International has built a new factory in Reserve, La., to manufacture the cottages in an assembly line process. The company hopes to build 5,000 homes a year.

Delays in moving Louisiana and Mississippi residents into Katrina cottages are partly due to fierce competition between those states and others for a $400 million pilot program that would replace government storm trailers. Even after FEMA announces the winning proposals, it will take months before any money is released because environmental impact studies must be conducted and dozens of federal regulations must be met.

Marianne Cusato, a New York architect who created one of the first Katrina cottages, says many Katrina victims will decide to buy the cottages themselves instead of waiting for federal help. “If the government can’t do it, it can be done through private enterprise,” she said.



DPZ’s Tom Low reports that during a Dec. 14 meeting with Charlotte - Mecklenburg County Schools (CMS) Building Services, the assistant superintendent and director gave their enthusiastic support for the construction of the first Learning Cottage model building.

“The goal of CMS is to provide good affordable and timely built schools, and to show local citizens that CMS is thinking outside the box on how to provide and how to design quality schools,” says Low.

“We plan to emulate the success of the Katrina Cottage, so this will improve our local school system and ultimately create swarms of this kind of effort across the country.”



KaBOOM! has committed to build 100 playgrounds in two years for Gulf Coast communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Bay St. Louis was the site of the first Operation Playground build in December 2005. As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was being commemorated, KaBOOM!, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems and Hands On Network built 10 new play spaces in just four days, investing more than $1 million.

By the end of 2006 the partnership plans to complete 31 playgrounds with the help of more than 10,000 volunteers and numerous corporate and municipal partners. Twenty-one of these projects have taken place in Mississippi and projects are being scheduled for next year, including a build in Gautier on January 30, 2007.

KaBOOM! also is holding its University of Play in New Orleans from February 8 – 10, 2007. This conference will provide attendees with information on the tools and resources available to build and promote play spaces in their communities. For more information, go to www.kaboom.org.


LOUISIANA


The Times-Picayune reports: On Dec. 2, thousands of New Orleanians gathered in five cities to discuss rebuilding their devastated city. Roughly 2,530 participants, linked by satellite video feeds, drew up a series of priorities that included levee protection to better schools and equal access to health care. These three initiatives became the top items for the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP), a citywide planning blueprint that leaders will use to secure more federal, state and philanthropic money for rebuilding.

Available recovery dollars could not put a dent in the expansive wish list that participants offered, however. Louisiana Recovery Authority officials have estimated the amount they control that may be available to New Orleans at about $200 million, and organizers said that it will take $8 billion -- or 40 times the available dollars for all projects -- just to restore the city’s roads, transit systems and utilities.

Follow all the New Orleans planning and see the names of all teams involved in the ongoing Unified New Orleans Plan effort at www.unop.org.



New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin claims the city of New Orleans has the best recovery plan in Louisiana but so far does not have the federal money or the state’s cooperation to fully support every aspect of rebuilding, according to a Dec. 1 story in The Times-Picayune.

“At the end of the day, there are not going to be enough federal dollars to do everything,” Nagin said. “It’s a shame, and it’s a problem, and it’s something we need to come to grips with. In my opinion, this recovery is going to be done in phases.”

Recovery began in the highest and driest neighborhoods, and is branching out to Lakeview and eastern New Orleans, Nagin said, allowing every homeowner ruined by last fall’s hurricanes to rebuild by choice -- not government mandate. “The fundamentals driving our recovery is that government investment will follow citizen investment,” Nagin said. “We now have clarity on where our citizens are making their investments. Every segment of the city is now open.”



Five months after announcing plans to demolish most of the flood-damaged public housing complexes in New Orleans, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) was berated by tenants at a crowded, fiery meeting on Nov. 29, reports The Times-Picayune.

The meeting, required by law before HANO can send bulldozers to raze the city’s four largest public housing complexes or private developers to rebuild them into planned mixed-income neighborhoods, drew hundreds to the auditorium of John McDonogh Senior High School.

Darren Martin, HANO’s government liaison, who acted as moderator, was shouted at and called a “puppet” and other names.

The mood of the crowd was clear before the meeting began, as people chanted “No demolition,” and dozens shouted while one HANO official gave a presentation of the agency’s redevelopment plan.

“It’s a whole lot of mess,” said Sharon Jasper, whose apartment in the St. Bernard complex remains off limits to her 15 months after Hurricane Katrina struck. “Their mind is set on destroying public housing. This is something they’ve been wanting to do.”

HANO, which is run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, ticked off a list of 5,100 apartments it wants to raze citywide, promising modern-day neighborhoods for families in their place. The promises were summarily dismissed by the vast majority of the crowd.



The Times-Picayune and The Washington Post reported Dec. 9 that Congress had passed catch-all legislation earlier that day that created for the first time a permanent source of federal financing to repair Louisiana’s eroding coastline and shore up its hurricane defenses.  The Senate vote represented the capstone of generations’ worth of lobbying by Louisiana lawmakers ever since the state in 1949 thumbed its nose at President Truman when he offered a 37.5 percent cut of offshore oil and gas royalties. The state’s gambit back then for more money failed and since has cost Louisiana tens of billions of dollars. As it turned out, the deal approved by Congress after a marathon day of negotiations Dec. 8 would steer the same percentage to four Gulf Coast states from newly authorized offshore energy drilling. For Louisiana, it is projected to mean $200 million through 2017 and some $650 million annually thereafter as revenue sharing expands throughout the Gulf of Mexico.



The Times-Picayune reported Nov. 26 that New Orleans’ latest attempt to get thousands of abandoned houses rehabilitated and put back into commerce finally is gathering steam and that, according to city officials, a significant number of properties should be ready for occupancy by late 2007, helping to meet pent-up demand for affordable rental or for-sale housing in post-Katrina New Orleans.


In its “Katrina Index” update released in mid-November, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program reported that key economic and housing indicators for the city and region “remain stagnant at best,” according to The Advocate. The report also used the word “stagnant” to describe the level of new businesses and public services in the city.

On the New Orleans housing front, Brookings said the pace of new home renovations has slowed in the past month, while demolitions “continue unabated.” The city issued roughly 1,500 new residential building permits between September and October, “far fewer than the 7,800 new permits issued in the previous month” and “the smallest one-month absolute increase in approvals for home renovations since February,” the report said.

The Katrina Index also found that the housing market in the New Orleans region has “cooled,” with the number of homes put up for sale remaining essentially unchanged while the number of homes sold has dropped in the past month.


In a Nov. 17 article, Nola.com reported that a rising tide of support and opposition is meeting a condominium proposal near Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson Parish, New Orleans. Planning advisers on Nov. 16 endorsed the redrawn lot lines needed to make way for the project.

The proposed condos, in the form of two modern, curving, glass and steel high-rises, would add a striking feature to the skyline of Old Jefferson unlike any other building in the New Orleans area. The developer’s request to merge seven lots into one large, 11-acre lot and a smaller section across a side street complies with all of Jefferson Parish’s codes, in-house parish planners concluded, leading to the Planning Advisory Board’s formal recommendation in favor of the land reconfiguration.

In public comments before that vote, the project drew both enthusiastic support and fierce opposition. Jefferson Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Hayes praised the project, saying it will enhance Jefferson Parish’s tax base, create jobs and provide sorely needed housing for senior citizens, with one of the towers planned specifically to serve seniors.

The developer, Jim St. Raymond, estimates the cost of construction at $350 million, which he plans to raise from investors, loans and tax-exempt bonds meant to encourage development in the Hurricane Katrina strike zone. St. Raymond is working with well-known New York architect Daniel Libeskind on the design.

“This area’s run down,” Jeff Cloutet, president of the business organization, said before Thursday’s meeting, referring to that stretch of Jefferson Highway. “It’s definitely going to be a big project that’s going to pump funds into this area.”

Neighbors, however, argued that the formidable structures, possibly 30 stories or higher, will block their sunlight, worsen traffic and loom incongruously over the wood-frame, mid-century houses in nearby neighborhoods.

Polly Rowell said the buildings would block her sunsets. Les Riess questioned whether the housing market would support the addition of hundreds of condo units. “What I’m opposed to is the scale of the project,” Riess said. “It is just simply out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.”

Karen Foti said the development would disrupt the tight-knit, family-like charm of her neighborhood a few blocks away, partly by injecting traffic she predicted to be “catastrophic.”

The conceptual designs from Libeskind’s New York studio also got mixed reviews. “This is not an aesthetically beautiful building,” said Jennifer Golden. “I think it’s a monstrosity.”

The land resubdivision case next goes to the Parish Council, which could take it up in January.



BayouBuzz.com reports that on Nov. 14, U.S. Representative William Jefferson (D-La.) announced that the state of Louisiana will receive more than $11 million in FEMA grants to fund the following five projects in the New Orleans area:

  • Clerk of Criminal District Court: scanning and digital restoration of records damaged by floodwater
  • Louisiana State University -- Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (Charity Hospital): temporarily relocate Charity’s primary care and trauma center to University Hospital
  • Jefferson Parish: Demobilization of temporary housing provided to Jefferson Parish employees, restoration of housing sites and payments for utilities
  • City of New Orleans -- Municipal Yacht Harbor Breakwater Drive shoreline: remove and repair concrete sidewalks, curbing, asphalt, light posts and culverts
  • Facility Planning and Control, State of Louisiana -- Supreme Court Building: repairs to electrical and mechanical systems, document restoration and moisture remediation

Owners of multi-family properties in the Village Square area of Chalmette are looking for help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, and public officials are hoping that a combination of government grants, tax credits and private investment can be used to revitalize the blighted area.

The St. Bernard Parish Council, sitting as the St. Bernard Housing, Redevelopment and Quality of Life Commission, met in November to hear details of redevelopment proposals and get input from area property owners who were invited as well. Although reaction was mixed at a recent meeting discussing such options, many property owners said they would be glad to sell to developers or the government for the right price.

Three of the rebuilding proposals being discussed involve voluntary buyouts of properties in the high-density, multi-family housing area bounded by the Village Square retail center on the south, De La Ronde Drive on the west and Oak Tree Lane on the north. A fourth proposal, which would not be for a redevelopment of the buildings, would use federal hazard mitigation money to create open green space from the area north of Oak Tree Lane all the way to 40 Arpent Canal.

CBO Financial Inc., a for-profit developer pre-approved by the federal government, wants to purchase the 22-acre square of property and turn it into a mixed-income family neighborhood with buildings set aside for social services.   Another developer, Louisiana Housing and Community Development, a nonprofit group created by the state Legislature, has a similar plan that would use tax credits to redevelop the area.

The third redevelopment plan is devised by planner Andrés Duany, who was contracted by the Louisiana Recovery Authority to design a mixed-use neighborhood with parks that would use financing from hazard mitigation grants and private developers.



Mayor C. Ray Nagin and The New Orleans Building Corporation (NOBC) announced Nov. 8 the finalists for the NOBC’s “Reinventing the Crescent” (www.NewORiverfront.com) selection process.

Finalists include Zaha Hadid (London), Frank Gehry (Los Angeles), Daniel Libeskind (Berlin) Bruce Mao (Toronto), TEN Arquitectos (Mexico City) and Reiser+Umemoto (New York).

For more information, contact Sean Cummings, executive director for NOBC, at 504.236.0081 or seanc@neworiverfront.com.


MISSISSIPPI

Like all the cities across the Gulf Coast, Bay St. Louis is waiting to hear back from the state CDBG program regarding which projects require full applications. The city hoped to hear from the state by the end of December. Those projects that are chosen for full application will most likely be funded/built.



The Mississippi SunHerald reported on Dec. 6 a struggle over a plan for what may become the city’s tallest building. Clark Griffith, chairman of the Reviving the Renaissance Committee, gave an impassioned speech on Dec. 5 to the City Council on why it should not grant an exception for the 198-foot-high, 33-story Tower at Edgewater. The Planning Commission had recommended that the council approve the tower.  “Gentlemen, that’s not a variance,” Griffith said. “That’s a total disregard and disrespect to the Biloxi Land Development Ordinance.”  He described the tower as a “monstrosity” and “eyesore” at the western end of a city whose citizens have said they want its coastal ambiance and architectural history preserved. “I wanted to make sure they got the message,” Griffith said after the meeting. “We are not going to sell our heart and soul.”  The City Council removed the Tower at Edgewater from the agenda, just as it did another matter last July proposed by the same developer, Kenny Lobell of GCID.

Mike Boudreaux, president of GCID, said the tower fits in with rebuilding plans because it encourages pedestrian traffic into Edgewater Mall and a townhouse component on the north side, where homes will start at $89,000 but average $159,000. The reason for building the tower taller is to offset the higher costs of insurance and construction.



The Mississippi Press reported Dec. 5 on the City Council’s consideration to create a downtown in order to gain access to grant funding. Community Services Director George Carbo has put together a plan that will not only designate a specific area as central Gautier, but will enable the city to seek grants through the Mississippi Development Authority’s 2006 Katrina Supplement Community Development Block Grant.

A portion of the grant has been set aside for the revitalization of downtown areas in cities impacted by Hurricane Katrina. But before Gautier can apply for any funds there must be a specified downtown area. Once the area is designated, the city’s intent is to apply for available funds for assistance in revitalizing.



Gulfport’s Draft SmartCode came up for open hearing before the Planning Commission on December 7. The City Council reviewed this draft on Dec. 19. The SmartCode was widely expected to be approved by City Council and Mayor, who have been unanimously supportive of the reform effort for city zoning and planning.

The document being considered for approval in Gulfport is the SmartCode framework; Community Plans will follow over the coming 60 days for each area of town under the framework if it is adopted.



The City of Moss Point has finalized the renewal vision for a downtown centered on eco-tourism, mixed-use development and SmartCodes. Since July of 2006, elected officials have been working with HOK Planning Group, Institute for Sustainable Communities, Moss Point Commission and community leaders to create a social experience unique to Jackson County and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

SmartCode: The Planning Commission has defined the Downtown District and subsequent overlay codes, developed uniquely for Moss Point. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen will hold the final public hearing for SmartCode in January 2007 followed by a final review.

Downtown Renewal Plan: Six Ward meetings were held from July to August 2006, with almost 70 percent of citizens saying they would highly promote the plan within the community. After making several adjustments based on community input, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen adopted the Downtown Renewal Plan in fall 2006.

Reconstruction of Main Street, Riverfront Park, the fire station, Riverwalk, Marina Pier and City Hall: Grant applications have been submitted to Mississippi Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant and the Coastal Impact Assistant Program for state and federal dollars needed to perform catalyst projects for downtown rejuvenation.



The city of Ocean Springs has extended $1 building permits for single-family homeowners trying to rebuild. This extension will last until June 30. The city also extended permission for people to have travel trailers and other temporary housing on their private lots for the same time frame.

Alderman-at-Large Julia Weaver reports that many residents still have not found the resources to rebuild. Some are still wrangling with insurance companies; others are waiting on homeowner assistance grants from the state government.

The city of Ocean Springs lost 177 homes in the storm with more than 1,500 having significant storm damage (flooding or roof damage). However, the basic infrastructure of the city is back up and running. Sales tax receipts are higher than normal; state and federal aid have helped city government with needed resources. Schools, water and sewer, parks and recreation, shopping districts and public safety are all fully functional.

The bridge between Ocean Springs and Biloxi is slated to be partially open November 2007.

In less encouraging news, a group called The Concerned Citizens of Ocean Springs in October filed suit against Mayor Connie Moran, the Board of Aldermen and the planning commission, claiming violations of the Mississippi Public Records Act. The group consists of residents who oppose the recently approved five-story Ocean Pointe Condominiums project on Front Beach. The new development is expected to exceed 50 feet, 10 feet higher than the pre-Katrina height restrictions for waterfront development.

The group’s attorney, Henry Laird, said the group is suing because the city has failed to provide all of the public information that they requested and did not allow them to inspect any and all of the documents. “We believe Mayor Moran really wants this condominium and we’re afraid this hearing will take place before our clients get the information they need before the hearing,” said Laird.

Moran has stated she has signed off on the group’s request for public information. In addition, she welcomed them and anyone else to come to City Hall to inspect the public information. She said residents should remember that she and the board inherited the Ocean Pointe project from the previous administration.

The same residents group filed a second condo suit in late November, according to the Mississippi SunHerald. The group filed a court appeal of a second Front Beach development. Their attorney, Henry Laird, said the group is asking the Jackson County Circuit Court to overturn approval of a project owned by Tom Reynolds, which had been approved by the Board of Aldermen last week. The suit also asks for a public hearing on Reynolds’ project.

Laird said it should have been the focus of a public hearing as part of the approval process. “It is another example that the city of Ocean Springs does not provide public hearings on zoning and subdivision issues,” he said.

While reading through the group’s objections, Moran said the Reynolds’ development appears to have met the city’s requirements. “As far as I understand, the project meets the current ordinances,” she said.



Pascagoula continues to move forward by promoting both redevelopment and rebuilding. City leaders recently took a walking tour of the Live Oak Apartments, which has been known for years in the community as Carver Village. The city has entered into a lease to purchase agreement with The Life Foundation to completely revitalize that abandoned apartment complex. It is a prime location for redevelopment with its close proximity to Highway 90.

Carver Village was built in the mid-1960s; shortly after its construction it became a crime haven. The complex was completely condemned following Hurricane Katrina because of damage. City plans include civic and retail projects at the location. Once all of the apartments are demolished, Pascagoula has plans to build a senior citizens center and a community center on the site.

Recently, a state-of-the-art handicapped-accessible playground was unveiled at I.G. Levy Memorial Park. This park was made possible by generous donations from Chevron and others throughout the community. It helps further the city’s motto of Pascagoula being a great place to live, work, and play.



The Pass Christian Planning Commission publicly heard its highly modified SmartCode on Dec. 14. In a 4-2 vote, the Planning Commission accepted the SmartCode, sending the proposal to the Board of Aldermen for final approval in the coming weeks.

There is some local controversy, as many residents believe the Planning Commission’s modifications have resulted in something too far from the original document prepared during the January 2006 SmartCode charrette to be properly called “SmartCode.”



The next round of plans have been developed for Harrison County; they include plans for Henderson Point-Pass Christian Isles and Pineville. The plans can be found at http://www.co.harrison.ms.us/departments/zoning/downloads.asp.

Past charrette work for Harrison County in Saucier and Henderson Point, Miss., has been posted at www.andrewsurbandesign.org.

HUD Official Denies Blame for Slow Housing Grants  The Associated Press reported Dec. 2 that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says the agency is not responsible for the alleged slowness of processing grants for a Mississippi housing program.  The grant program picked up speed after the state made numerous changes, which were prompted by homeowners’ and elected officials’ complaints. As of Dec. 1, about 6,000 grant checks had been paid to more than 17,000 homeowners who applied for the Homeowner Grant Program last April, according to the Mississippi Development Authority.



Four Mississippi cultural agencies hosted a “cultural charrette” in Gulfport Dec. 1 and 2, 2006. The Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Library Commission and Mississippi Department of Archives and History held the event, titled “A Cultural Charrette: Conversations about Coast Community Life,” at the Jefferson Davis Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The charrette brought together organizations and individuals to discuss the culture of the Mississippi Gulf Coast -- its history, architecture, cuisine, way of life and ethnic diversity. The charrette allowed residents an opportunity to be part of reweaving the fabric that constitutes the heart and soul of the coastal area, while encouraging collaboration among cultural entities and interested residents as recovery continues.



In its Nov. 12 issue, The New York Times reported that casino operators are snatching up tracts of land from Point Cadet Neighborhood (Biloxi) property owners whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

A few weeks after Katrina, Mississippi passed a law allowing floating casino barges to move ashore and build up to 800 feet inland -- a change designed to jumpstart the region’s economic recovery and protect the hotel resorts from future storms.

The move sent property values soaring for some homeowners. One neighborhood resident sold his property to a casino for more than $1 million, much more than it was worth before Katrina. Another property -- a nearly vacant lot -- was snapped up for a little over $1 million (a whopping $80 per square foot) by Isle of Capri, one of the first casinos to reopen after the storm.

But now, industry observers say the casinos’ shopping spree on the coast is in a lull as existing operators wait to see how many new competitors enter the market. “Everybody in Biloxi thinks they live on a condo site or a casino site,” said Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association. “A lot of people are holding out in anticipation that someone will show interest in their property.”

Point Cadet, located on a peninsula in southeast Biloxi, has been home to generations of shrimpers and fishermen. Several casinos tower over the devastated landscape now, and “the Point” has become fertile ground for commercial real estate brokers.  



An announcement is expected soon from the Federal Emergency Management Agency concerning the Alternative Housing Pilot Program. Congress appropriated $400 million in June 2006 for the development of alternative approaches to disaster housing. Five states are competing for a share of the $400 million: Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Alabama.

The state of Mississippi has led the movement to find a more suitable replacement for travel trailers and mobile homes as long-term emergency housing. The first alternative housing designs were created at the Mississippi Renewal Forum, convened by the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal in October 2005. The “Katrina Cottage” design produced at the forum generated substantial interest from around the country on the issue of disaster emergency housing.

Since that time, the state of Mississippi has actively pursued the issue of replacing travel trailers for its residents. In June, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran successfully proposed the allocation of funds to support alternative temporary housing solutions. The state has collaborated with an expert team of architects and organizations to create alternative housing solutions, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University, the Federation of American Scientists, and the architectural firm Looney Ricks Kiss.



The Gulf of Mexico Program awarded the Mississippi Renewal Forum a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2006 in the Partnership Category for the rebuilding and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. The award was presented during the Third National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration on December 13, 2006, at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, La.

The governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, established the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal. This Commission was chaired by Jim Barksdale, who along with the Knight Foundation donated $1 million each to finance it. The effort was charged with the monumental task of redesigning and rebuilding 45,000 homes and businesses in three counties.

“I commend Governor Barbour and the organizers/sponsors/conveners of the Mississippi Renewal Forum for their vision in seeking out responsible design options for rebuilding the homes, neighborhoods, and communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. “The Gulf of Mexico Program is proud to recognize them for their leadership and commitment in these unprecedented efforts.”

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2006, go to the Gulf of Mexico Program Web site at www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.


Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has been named the nation’s most outstanding governor and a 2006 Public Official of the Year in recognition of his resourcefulness and cool-headed leadership in the face of Hurricane Katrina. The award was given by Governing magazine, an independent, Washington, D.C.-based magazine devoted to coverage of state and local government.

“I am honored to receive this award from Governing magazine, but Marsha and I feel it is more a tribute to the people of Mississippi because of the character, resilience, courage and selflessness they displayed after Hurricane Katrina,” Barbour said. “I graciously accept this award on their behalf.”

Barbour was profiled in the Nov. 2006 issue of Governing for “being straight with the facts about the utter devastation in the area, but also for his own demeanor in public appearances that suggested the state would summon the will to rebuild.” The profile, titled “Steady in a Storm,” credits Barbour for putting his state on a road to recovery, as evidenced by the prompt reopening of public schools and the unprecedented provision of temporary housing for more than 100,000 residents.

Governing also named Ventura, Calif., City Manager Rick Cole one of its public officials of the year, further cementing his reputation as an advocate for smart growth and urban redevelopment. The magazine recognized Cole for excelling in both elected and appointed roles over the past decade and promoting innovative mixed-use development that reflects community values and participation. As city manager in Azusa for six years, Cole helped lure new investment to the fading blue-collar city. Cole now is working on a master plan for Ventura as he and the City Council promote smart growth.

Brief updates on Mississippi Gulf Coast communities’ progress toward renewal can be e-mailed to Jason Miller at jason@tndtownpaper.com.


SIDEBAR



Bookmark these Web sites to stay on top of rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast.

Center for Planning Excellence (La.)
www.c-pex.org

The Clarion-Ledger (Miss.)
www.clarionledger.com

Congress for the New Urbanism
www.cnu.org

Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal (Miss.)
www.governorbarbour.com/Recovery/

gulflive.com
www.gulflive.com

LouisianaRebuilds.info
www.louisianarebuilds.info

Louisiana Speaks
www.louisianaspeaks.org

Mississippi Governors Commission
www.governorscommission.com

Mississippi Press
www.themississippipress.com

Mississippi Renewal Forum
www.mississippirenewal.com

New Urban News
www.newurbannews.com

NOLA.com (“Everything New Orleans”)
www.nola.com

South Mississippi Sun Herald
www.sunherald.com

Times Picayune (New Orleans)
www.timespicayune.com

The Town Paper
www.tndtownpaper.com

Unified New Orleans Plan
www.unop.org

Editor’s note:
Suggestions for additions to this list may be sent to Jason Miller, New Towns editor, at jason@tndtownpaper.com.