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FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Section 106 Review of State of Louisiana, LA Department of Education/Recovery School District (RSD) Proposal to Demolish the Thomy Lafon Elementary School, 2601 Seventh Street, New Orleans, LA - Seeking Public Comment"
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Name: Esther Shin
City: St. Louis, MO
2601 Sevent Street, New Orleans, LA
Comments: I believe that the Lafon buildings should be demolished for a host of reasons, but primarily because there is no viable proposed future use for any of the buildings by any organization, developer or school system. Forgoing demolition at this point could easily result in a vacant site (including more recent buildings on the site that were flooded) for years, ultimately resulting in using non-federal school funds to deal with the site at the expense of students who deserve those funds for learning purposes. The site is a danger and a liability for residents, the RSD and OPSB. It is easy to promote preservation of the one original building, but if there is no plan to deal with the non-contributing buildings, the un-usable infrastructure and possible archeological issues with the site, it is just talk that has no positive outcome. The expense, land disposition issues and viability of a use for the building have not been addressed by those who think "someone" should take on this project and create some use for the structure. This building was built as a school for low-income black children during segregation, and was an opportunity for an architect to promote himself. It was not designed as a learning environment using the best practices of the time. Memorializing the site should revolve around its history as a school site for hundreds of years and the role of Mr. Thomy Lafon as a progressive black philanthropist of a past generation who built the original wooden school. The mid-century structure should be documented and the wonderful sculpture on the site should be preserved and displayed on the site. Demolition now is an opportunity to use federal funds to remediate what is now a problem site so that it could have some productive or passive use without draining funds away from our kids.