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What You Need to Know About the Gentilly Resiliency District

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New Orleans recently won a grant to improve handling of stormwater, and the buzzwordy Gentilly Resiliency District was presented as one of the initiatives the grant will power. The only thing we knew about it then was the vague aim of creating "resilient safe and equitable communities of opportunity," but now there's more info. Here's the skinny.

The gist: New Orleans mitigates flooding using pumps, drains, levees and floodwalls, but the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is trying to acclimate the city to "living with water" instead. The Gentilly Resiliency District will be sort of an experiment ground for this.

Why was the neighborhood chosen? You can read about that here.

At this point, the district plans to include:
· Mirabeau Water Garden. "A detention pond" at the former Sisters of St. Joseph's convent that "will be enhanced with a pedestrian path and public recreation features that can double as a holding area for floodwater when needed."
· Suped-up neutral grounds. Neutral grounds, aka medians for you out-of-towners, will help mitigate flooding. Some will be "excavated and turned into 'blue corridors,'" while others will become "'green corridors' with swales, tree canopies and water permeable sidewalks." Renderings of the neutral ground show aspirational light rails and happy people engaging in recreational activities.

· Making the floodwalls fun. The plan calls for "removing sections of floodwalls from the Orleans Avenue Canal, opening the site for recreational use and greater aesthetic appeal." Renderings of that plan show people canoeing down the canal, as more folk engage in recreational bliss.

· Water-loving features. Streets and public areas would have "permeable sidewalks, swales and rain retention gardens."

Also:
· "Green" school campuses
· Pedestrian bridges over Bayou St. John in the St. Bernard Area and one from Dillard University connecting to a site that would serve as "an educational center for water and ecology."
· Possible incentives and subsidies for Gentilly homeowners who incorporate water management features
· Storm-water structures in lower-lying vacant lots owned by NORA

And:
· The Gentilly Forest will not be touched!
· Although not adjacent to Gentilly, St. Roch will have site in that neighborhood to retain and store more stormwater, since flooding there can contribute to that in Gentilly.

Sounds ambitious. How are we paying for this? The HUD grant will help, and this city can also tap into funds from FEMA.

When is this happening? "Construction would end in 2022, with the area seeing the full function and benefits of its projects sometime between 2019 and 2022."

Is the word "resiliency" real? Unclear.

· Gentilly Resiliency District goes against flow of how New Orleans handles stormwater [NOLA.com]
· Why was Gentilly, and not another neighborhood, chosen for a resiliency district? [NOLA.com]
· All Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan coverage [Curbed NOLA]