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FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Historic Review of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, 5500 Paris Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana with linked PDF attachments "
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Name: Suzanne Starr
City: New Orleans
Specific
property
affected:
5500 Paris
Comments: FEMA,
As I read the posting on your web site they appear to fall into 3 categories. The first group is trying to save their church. The second group is trying to save a building. The third group is trying to save their neighborhood.

Unfortunately for the first group, their fate seemed to be sealed well before Katrina. Like many parishes around the city, Cabrini parish had an ageing congregation decreasing in size while the parish debt continued to grow. The parish was not able to sustain itself and was on the way to be closed like so many other parishes in the city. Katrina only sped up the inevitable.

The second group is really only interested in saving the building. They really don't care rather the building remains a church as long as it is not torn down. The reason they state the building should not be torn down is because it is historic. The first reason they give is that the building was built at the time of Vatican II. Unfortunately the timing of the construction pre-dates any information coming out of Vatican II therefore making it impossible to be built to the council's specifications. Criteria A specify that the property derive its primary significance from historical importance. Vatican II was of historical significance but not only to New Orleans but to the world. There are hundreds of churches that were built to follow those specifications around the world. This church is certainly not unique in that area. Criteria G state that the property achieves significance within the past 50 years and is of exceptional importance. The reason this group state that the property is important is because it was designed by Curtis & Davis and has received awards. Curtis & Davis has designed many properties in New Orleans and Louisiana and have received many awards for those properties including at least two other churches in the state. This definitely indicates that the Cabrini church building is not significant it that area. Finally, because a building is unique does not make it historic and worthy of preservation. According to many of the posting I have read the building always had maintenance issues. If I remember correctly the Rivergate was also plagued with maintenance problems. No matter how unique a structure is, if the design is faulty, it should not be replicated. That could be the reason that you don't see anymore of this type of design.

Finally the third group is really interested in saving their neighborhood. This group realizes that the only way to save the area is to bring in businesses and people. There are some in the group who have a real attachment to the church building but are realistic knowing that a building historic or not will not attract people and businesses back to the area. There are a lot of people who don't believe that Holy Cross will boost the area but that is wrong. Holy Cross is a business as well as an educator and other businesses will certainly follow. I am also reading that many people have based their return on the Holy Cross deal, which means the people, will also follow. This group also realizes that eventually with the increase in the number of people who are returning, their parish will have a chance to rebuild a church that is more financially manageable.

In conclusion, please recognize how important an asset Holy Cross will be to the area and approve their plans to build on the property as they see fit.
Thank you.