WASHINGTON, DC, January 18, 2006---The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) released the following statement today in reaction to the Bring New Orleans Back Commission’s report:
“ASLA supports the comprehensive plan, drafted by Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC, and recently presented by the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, which will create a safer, resilient and more vibrant New Orleans. The plan calls for the complete restoration of the wetlands surrounding the city, providing a vital, natural land barrier against storm surge and a comprehensive parks system putting open space in every neighborhood, creating greenways to connect neighborhoods, and reusing areas around canals and levees as open space. In addition, transportation corridors would be designed to better accommodate pedestrians and alternative modes of transportation. The Society is also encouraged to see plans for a citywide, high-speed light rail system to connect neighborhoods to the downtown area, as well as provisions for a heavy rail system that will connect New Orleans to neighboring cities. ASLA supports efforts to bring comprehensive planning to the city’s streets and neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Planning Areas initiative. The Society hopes and expects that landscape architects will play an integral role in this planning and rebuilding process.
“Citizens deserve to have the best possible information with which to make decisions about how and where to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, critical information gaps exist, but many are working hard right now to fill those gaps. For example, leading landscape architects, architects, engineers, and scientists are developing interactive maps of the Gulf region that will allow citizens and public officials to see first-hand those areas that are most at risk to flooding, hurricane damage, and coastal erosion. The maps will provide factual and objective analysis based on actual data. With these tools, individuals, families, and entire communities will be able to make informed decisions and better understand the choices they are facing. In the meantime, actions should be taken by the appropriate agencies to ensure that those displaced by the hurricanes and flood damage continue to receive the aid and housing they need while the assessment and planning process continues.
“While ASLA generally supports the Bring New Orleans Back Commission plan, the Society believes it is necessary to plan for the long-term. For example, any proposal for large-scale additions of parkland and open space must be coupled with strategies to ensure their maintenance so they remain safe and enjoyable places. At the same time, the city must plan for appropriate, sustainable pest control methods in reconstructed wetlands and buffer parks to guard against unintended consequences of these protective elements.
“In the end, rebuilding New Orleans must come about after a comprehensive planning effort—one that will take time and must consider not only rebuilding, but protection for the future. Rushing to rebuild without providing real security will only undermine the widely shared goal of making New Orleans and many other communities along the Gulf stronger and better than ever before.”