Morenci grad on top development team 2009.11.25

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

If the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans finally gets a grocery store, there will be a Morenci connection to the neighborhood’s success.nola_project.jpg

2004 Morenci graduate Rosanna Green-Ballinger was part of a team competing in this year’s JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition. The team beat competitors from colleges around the country to win first place with its project, “Bringing Fresh Food to the Lower Ninth Ward.”

The annual competition calls for students to work with nonprofit organizations to develop a real estate project that is feasible, sustainable and helps to build and strengthen the local community.

Ballinger, a University of New Orleans graduate student studying urban and regional planning, worked with three other members from her school who joined forces with students from Louisiana State University and DePaul University in Chicago. Students from each school focussed on a different portion of the project.

DePaul provided the financial data, LSU came through with the architectural renderings, and Ballinger’s team focussed on the community development aspect, along with the market analysis.

Second place was won by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis. Third place went to a team from The New School in New York City.

Other finalists included a Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Tulane University team and a University of California, Davis/ University of Oregon team.

The first-place finish brings a prize of $25,000 to the winner’s non-profit partner, the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED).

The winning plan calls for the redevelopment of commercial space where businesses failed to reopen following Hurricane Katrina.

The 15-year-old competition moved to New Orleans last year after 13 years in New York City. About half of the proposals to place first, second or third in the competition have become a reality. Lizette Terral, president of the New Orleans region for Chase, said she expects this project to fall in the category of successful ventures.

“I think it’s not just the viability of this project,” Terral said. “It’s the presentation, the research, the analysis that will make it successful.”

The competition brought closure to a lengthy effort.

“We started working on the project in the spring semester and all summer we worked on the research and market analysis,” Ballinger said.

Eventually her team thought less about the competition and more about doing whatever possible to make the project happen.

Lower Ninth residents—many without vehicles—have to travel several miles to reach a grocery with fresh foods, a fact that impedes efforts to rebuild the flood-ravaged area and also adversely affects the health of residents.

Time spent on the project grew as the filing deadline neared.

“We finally met the DePaul team on the Sunday before the competition,” Ballinger said. “They flew in that morning and we spent from noon until 10 p.m. working on the presentation.”

Additional fine-tuning came the next day and on the following—right up until the team stood before the panel of judges.

“When our professors sent the e-mail out asking if students were interested in working on a fresh food market project, I looked into it because I knew how badly the Lower Ninth Ward residents wanted a grocery store,” Ballinger said.

“I set up a lot of the community meetings and made connections with key people in the community,” she said about her role in the project. “I also did research on the health section of the project and the community background, and incorporated some of the hazard mitigation techniques to make sure the store is resilient to storm and flood waters.”

Several local agencies and officials have pledged support for the project and funding sources are coming to light. Ballinger thinks there’s a good chance the store will be built. She expects the publicity from the competition will bring additional funding.

For those living in the Lower Ninth Ward, the Chase competition offers some hope for the future.

“There’s a need. There’s a desire. It’s so hard to go elsewhere,” said Pam Dashiell of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. “But most importantly, if there’s a store back here, it gives us something to attract people. If there’s a store and a school, that helps to rebuild the community.”

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017