Neighbors say construction at historic school is damaging their homes


Posted on November 10, 2011 at 11:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 10 at 11:42 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - A historic New Orleans school is getting a facelift. But neighbors say construction is shaking the community.

"It's damaged in two places," said Annie Falls, pointing to one of the pillars beneath her Upper 9th Ward home.

Falls' foundation is cracking, and she believes she can see the culprit from her backyard.

William Frantz Elementary is just 130 feet from Falls' home. Crews began renovating the historic school last year.

Falls said construction trucks and pile driving have damaged homes in her community.

"The vibration, if I were in my basement which is my den, this is what happens," said Falls, shaking her hands. "And the noise. The worst part is driving the piles, the noise from driving the piles made me sometimes take a ride for the day."

And Falls isn't the only one. Neighbors gathered Thursday night to demand answers from the Recovery School District, which is over the project.

An advocacy agency, called A Community Voice, hosted the meeting. They, like Falls, are hoping for one thing.

"The construction company has a legal obligation, we believe, to compensate these residents for their damage," said Vanessa Gueringer, vice president and board member of A Community Voice.

RSD Deputy Superintendent of Operations Ramsey Green attended the meeting. He said his office couldn't promise an outcome, but would investigate each case.

"We're the owner of the construction site, and it is our obligation to look into these things and we will do that," said Green.

Falls said the noise from the pile driving stopped several weeks ago. But on a fixed income, she's hoping her home of 43 years will be repaired.

"I'm deeply concerned. This is my home," said Falls.

The $24 million project is set to be complete in August 2012.

If you have believe you have been impacted by the school's construction, Green advises that you call the RSD. That number is 504-373-6400.

A Community Voice is also hosting a follow-up meeting December 8th. They plan to set up individual meetings with homeowners who have damage. If you'd like to make an appointment to do so, call 504-941-2852.