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Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The empty lot at the corner of Claiborne and Caffin avenues holds strong memories for Sherry Randall.

'It was good for the community,' she said.

The site is where the Sanchez Community center once stood. Heavily damaged after the levee failure in the Lower Ninth Ward, it was subsequently torn down. This September, though, a new one is set finally go up in its place.

'It's going to be a blessing for the whole community to be right here,' Randall said.

The project is just one of the 295 the city is aiming to complete by the end of 2014. More than halfway through Mayor Mitch Landrieu's first term, half of those capital projects are now finished. That includes five new libraries that were built in the past four months, like the $9.2 million one in Algiers that opened this week.

'It means the recovery and the rebuilding is really going full gallop,' Mayor Landrieu said. 'A lot of people talked about what to do; not too many people about how to do or when to get it done by.'

Much of the funding for the projects comes from FEMA. The director of the agency's Louisiana office said they are still dealing with projects related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita from 2005, all the way through last year's Tropical Storm Lee.

'We're here now to do construction. So, my success is what we see today -- brick and mortar,' said FEMA's Joe Threat. 'We've got a lot planned for Orleans and you're going to see a lot more construction going on.'

Some of that includes upcoming construction on a community center in the Desire neighborhood and the upcoming renovation of the St. Roch Market, which was also damaged after Katrina.

Another $200 million is set aside for neighborhood road repairs.

'We're just beginning to get into the work on roads, which will probably be another few years,' said Cedric Grant, Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development.

It is work that Sherry Randall believes, can't come soon enough.

'That would be a start, that would be a big help,' she said.

Still up in the air is the Municipal Auditorium. The city said negotiations remain ongoing with FEMA over how much damage occurred during the storm and how much money the agency is willing to pay for the repairs.

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