By Claire Byun
As of right now, the Tulane Canal neighborhood doesn’t have it’s own special security patrols and is not included in the Mid-City Security District. But it could be something Tulane Canal Neighborhood Association members consider for the future.
Patrick Armstrong, with the Mid-City Neighborhood Association, wanted to float the idea of including Tulane Canal into MCSD before proposing new legislation. The special district is based on state legislation and has to go up to ballot every few years, which gives organizers the ability to modify the district’s boundaries and payment options.
Expanding MCSD’s boundaries is just an idea at this point – there are no concrete plans, but Armstrong wanted to get some feedback from other neighborhood groups before planning any changes.
The special district goes up to ballot again in a few years, and Armstrong is planning to personally propose legislation changes concerning how MCSD is paid for and the scope and neighborhoods it covers.
As for now, including Tulane Canal into MCSD’s boundaries is just theoretical. But Armstrong – who presented the idea at TCNA’s meeting Wednesday – said he wants to get a jump on the new legislation so TCNA isn’t left out in the future.
“That chance is coming open, and I don’t want to be behind the curve on this,” Armstrong said.
The district is funded through residential and commercial property fees. Since property owners pay for protection based on the number of parcels they occupy, some homeowners are paying nearly the same as a large scale apartment building. The funding system is almost identical to the Lakeview Crime Prevention District but doesn’t make sense for a mixed-use neighborhood like Mid-City, Armstrong said.
Homeowners pay $220 per parcel and businesses are charged $330. Last year, the MCSD board voted to raise its rates by 10 percent to combat the rising costs of police salaries and vehicle maintenance.
While expanding MCSD boundaries is just an idea, Jacob Rickoll, TCNA president, said the neighborhood should consider alternative ways of safety and protection. Rickoll volunteers with the New Orleans Police Department’s Mobile Crisis Unit, which helps intervene and treat those who will benefit from mental health care. In that role, he understands how thinly NOPD officers are stretched and said it might be beneficial to have set patrols that are not called away for any reason.
“We’re all just testing the waters to see how we feel about this,” Rickoll said.
Antonia Carbone, TCNA member, asked if expanding the district is meant to bring in more resources or provide more patrols for everyone. The idea, Armstrong said, would be to raise money for more patrols while lowering the tax impact on everyone included.
But to get the new legislation to pass ballot again, it needs to be made more affordable. Including more neighborhoods into the district would help solve that problem, Armstrong said.
“We can start thinking about what’s realistically affordable, because we have time, and we can start brainstorming and talking to neighbors,” Rickoll said.