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Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Second District police station will be in Gert Town

Read about it in The Uptown Messenger

"The new Second District police station — meant to replace the crumbling century-old building on Magazine Street — will be in Gert Town, likely in combination with a new Gert Town pool and possibly other facilities..."

"A number of plans for a new station have been put forward for years. Last year the city allocated $400,000 to purchase land for the station, and the capital-projects request for the coming year calls for another $550,000 for designs. But the first task, city officials have said, was choosing a new location.

Now, the city has a destination in mind. Responding to a question from a Gert Town resident at Wednesday night’s meeting about the coming year’s budget, Landrieu said that the city intends to replace the Gert Town pool, closed after the flooding following the levee breaches after Hurricane Katrina and demolished in 2011, and that the city is also looking at the same location for the new Second District station.
“We intend to build it in Gert Town,” Landrieu said of the new police precinct.

The site would be around the former location of the Mary Church Terrell school, said Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant after the meeting, and the city has already begun discussing its possible acquisition with the Orleans Parish School Board. There are two squares of property there, one for the pool and one for the police station, Grant said, and it would offer police officers easy access to Earhart Boulevard and from there around the Second District. It would also be more centrally located, Grant noted.

The police department redrew district lines at the beginning of 2012 to reflect population shifts and crime trends. The Second District had previously run from the Jefferson Parish line to Louisiana Avenue, but after the redistricting much of the line stopped at Napoleon Avenue. In fact, a separate block had to be cut out of the new line to keep the Second District station inside the new Second District.

“Response times would be great for the whole district,” Grant said.

Other possible sites have been discussed, such as in Hollygrove or around the Ochsner Bapist complex near Freret, but Second District Commander Paul Noel has said that the Gert Town location would be the best logistical choice for his officers. It offers plenty of room for them to park and convenient access to the major roads that serve the rest of the district.

Further, Noel told Second District residents at a community meeting in July, officers spend their entire shifts on patrol, not at the station, and they are usually dispatched to 911 calls from somewhere on the road anyway. The placement of the station won’t affect their patrol assignments, he said.

“Moving into Gert Town would be good,” NOPD Deputy Superintendent Darryl Albert, who formerly led the Second District, said at the budget meeting. “They have to move to a larger location.”

The real task before the city now, said District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, is finding the best way to maximize the benefit from the public investment. The city has $7.3 million for the pool, but she hopes that by combining it with the police station, the city can find even more grants or resources for the complex, such as an additional community center. Additional partnerships with entities like Xavier University may also be possible, she said.

“We want to look at every resource available,” Cantrell said."
We've heard the story about a new location for the 2nd District before. With all the budget woes, we'll have to wait and see how this actually plays out.

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