Rebuilding Plan Draws Residents' Ire

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin speaks during the Bring New Orleans Back Commission meeting Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, in New Orleans. Angry residents vented frustration Wednesday at the debut of rebuilding proposals for this devastated city. Some vowed to defend their land from possible government buyouts and others said the city needs to get out of their way and let them rebuild. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP Photo

Angry residents expressed frustration Wednesday at the debut of rebuilding proposals for this devastated city, taking aim at a suggested four-month moratorium on new building permits in areas heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

"Our neighborhood is ready to come home," said property owner Jeb Bruneau of Lakeview, which borders Lake Pontchartrain. "Don't get in our way and prevent us from doing that. Help us cut the red tape."

The Bring New Orleans Back Commission, appointed by Mayor Ray Nagin, released its initial recommendations to a packed crowd of local residents. The plans could become part of a blueprint for rebuilding New Orleans, a task unparalleled in American history.

Nagin sent shock waves through the city, laying out a plan that gives many of the hardest hit wards just four months to prove they can
survive, CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta reports.

Neighborhoods that cannot justify their continued existence will be bought out and demolished, Acosta adds.

The idea behind the moratorium is to ensure that enough people would move back to a neighborhood to avoid large expanses with isolated houses.

But that didn't sit well with residents from the hard-hit Ninth Ward, Lakeview and east New Orleans. Several lashed out at commission members such as prominent New Orleans developer Joseph Canizaro.

"I don't know you, but Mr. Canizaro, I hate you," Harvey Bender of the Lower Ninth Ward said as he pointed his finger. "You've been in the background scheming to take our land."

After the meeting, Canizaro met with Bender and promised to explain the commission's recommendations in greater detail.

"I told him I want to do everything I can to help this city. I'm not going to make a dime off this," Canizaro said. Commission members have pledged not to profit from their positions on the panel.

Another resident, Caroline Parker, said: "I don't think it's right that you take our properties. Over my dead body."

Nagin's plan is more than just controversial, Acosta reports, it's also with $12 billion to acquire and demolish homes beyond repair, $4.8 billion for a new high-speed light rail system and $413 million to repair city-owned buildings.

The razor-thin, four-month timetable also threatens to derail the
proposal, especially with many residents having lived the past five months out-of-state.
  • Sean Alfano

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