Tuesday, April 04, 2006
By Gordon Russell
More than 100 residents of eastern New Orleans, most from the Village de l'Est neighborhood, turned up at a meeting Monday morning to oppose a proposed construction debris landfill near their homes.
The Rev. Vien Nguyen, pastor of the church, called the meeting a success, saying "it was very clear how the people felt." Nguyen said members of the community plan to show up en masse at the City Council's meeting Thursday, where Willard-Lewis will offer the resolution.
Nguyen said the community has two major concerns: One is that a landfill could cause environmental problems in the area, which abuts the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge as well as Village de l'Est.
The pastor said residents' second concern is that a landfill in the area could derail the community's plans to refashion itself as the country's first "Viet Town."
The proposed landfill's application is pending before the state DEQ. The agency has not indicated whether it will issue a permit, but Assistant Secretary Chuck Carr Brown has consistently said there is a need for more landfill space.
Brown attended the meeting Monday. He told residents that their input would be considered as regulators attempt to determine whether to issue a permit.
About six weeks ago, when the proposed landfill first became public, Willard-Lewis seemed to endorse it in a press release issued by her office.
"We have to clean up the neighborhoods and streets if we want people to return," the release said in part. "If you are going to pick up the debris, you have to have a place to put it. . . . I am hopeful that this landfill project will help speed up the process."
On Monday, Willard-Lewis said she never supported the proposed landfill. The mayor had already acted, she said, and she was trying to make the best of a bad situation.
LPNS COMMENTARY: Another sleazy N.O. political deal? Mayoral candidate Peggy Wilson first uncovered this story two weeks ago giving it to the Times Picayune. Wilson, at the meeting yesterday questioned whether the plan placing the big new dump next to the thriving Viet Namese community may be racial or "colorbound" in nature.