Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Bucktown to be replaced by floodgate
By Sheila Grissett
East Jefferson bureau
The remnants of Bucktown’s venerable old fishing fleet and the site of Sid Mar’s historic waterfront restaurant, as well as the popular Coconut Beach Volleyball Complex at West End, are among the local landmarks and institutions being sacrificed to construction of a temporary floodgate in the 17th Street Canal, according to the latest design plan federal engineers were finalizing this week.
“Sid Mar’s will have to relocate, and the fishing boats won’t ever be able to come back,” said Janet Cruppi, a real estate division supervisor with the Corps of Engineers, which will build and operate the new floodgate and some additional levees on both sides of the big outfall canal. “It’s such a shame that landowners are finding out before we can even get in touch with them, but that’s the nature of the emergency.”
The emergency began when sections of the 17th Street and London Avenue canals collapsed during Hurricane Katrina, and will continue until new floodgates are built to stop additional storm surges from entering those canals – as well as the unstable Orleans Avenue Canal – during the storm season that begins June 1.
Three of four emergency contracts to install floodgates at the 17th and the London Avenue canals, and to secure auxiliary pumps to operate gates at all three canals, were let Friday night, and a fourth contract to build gates at the Orleans Canal should be awarded within the next week or so, officials said.
And with the clock ticking loudly toward the new storm season only four months away, corps officials said they must take the private property needed to build the gates, pump platforms and additional levee sections now, and negotiate buy-out prices later.
“Normally, we handle real estate issues before construction, but, regrettably, we can’t do that in this situation,” said Cruppi, who is supervising the time-consuming process of identifying, notifying and negotiating – where possible — buy-out agreements with affected property owners.
If there is good news for property owners, it’s that no private land is needed for the gate projects along the Orleans and London canals, where public agencies hold all the acreage needed to facilitate the work, she said.
However, some private property will most likely be required for floodwall repairs in a few spots along all three canals, Cruppi said. Those contracts are expected to be finalized in a couple of weeks Cruppi said