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||Andrew Finnan '97
|Holy Cross High School
||Not since the late 70's and early 80's as the oil industry began to relocate from New Orleans has the City experienced this type of identity crisis. Other cities have cashed in on New Orleans' failures to act aggressively. We are nearly one and half years from the devastation of Katrina, and the City is losing traction - fast. By putting the breaks on the relocation of Holy Cross School to evaluate and study the architectural and historical significance of a 1960's modern church, St. Francis Cabrini, the City may miss another chance to move forward while retaining the history of Holy Cross School - a more significant entity than a church the Archdiocese doesn't even want.
Although the City is not the decision maker here, the true weight of the City must be thrown to support Holy Cross's relocation, and its desired wish to develop the land as it sees fit. FEMA is a beauracraitc entity that should not in any way disrupt a move that will ensure true growth to a blighted area. As the preservationists hide behind an organization 1,000 miles away, we are wasting time and a great opportunity - again.
We must evaluate what is best for the City's soul and its greatest asset, those folks who have decided to stay and rebuild. Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge Morrell asks the right question in a New York Times article from December 19, 2006, "Are you saying that a piece of concrete is more valuable than humans?" I want to take that question one step further, "Are the preservationists saying that a piece of concrete is more valuable than educating the children of New Orleans?"
I speak with first hand knowledge of who Holy Cross is. No, I didn't mean to write what Holy Cross is, because you can ask any alumnus, any parent or grandparent, anyone that knows Holy Cross that this school is not a "what" but a living organism that has educated - mind and heart - many generations of New Orleanians. Holy Cross is worth more than any building. From that same New York Times article, a Tulane professor of architecture says that St. Francis Cabrini is, "A very exciting place to worship." There is no more worship going on in St. Francis Cabrini. On the other hand, Holy Cross is alive and well, even from the temporary trailers at 4900 Dauphine St. - ask any current Holy Cross Man.
Some say government tax dollars from FEMA must be used to suit all parties. A comprise is not an option here. Compromises are nothing more than an agreement that leaves all parties with resentment and regrets. There is no better scenario where we need to remove the desire for compromise and tax dollars with strings attached. Some arguments focus on architectural significance, but this argument is one of human significance; and the simple question of "What is best for the City?" begs to be answered.
Now is the time for all New Orleans residents and the entire Holy Cross Family to get it together. Now is the time, as businesses move out of New Orleans and displaced families take up roots elsewhere, to ensure that the Holy Cross tradition continues in the best possible environment with top notch facilities, unimpeded by a vocal minority who wish to preserve a building that sits in hopes of becoming a landmark for a debatable architectural significance. Instead, if allowed to remain, St. Francis Cabrini will sit and be a landmark signifying all of the City's missed opportunities. And Mr. Rodi, sorry I missed your call, I pledge $500.00 to the Holy Cross phone-a-thon.