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.”

  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.
  • Front.art.park
  • Front.drum
  • Shadow.salon

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016