St. Charles Avenue group toasts ’12 success

Click here to view the St. Charles Avenue group gallery

The graceful live oaks shading St. Charles Avenue are symbolic of New Orleans, yet the city has been hard-pressed to maintain the trees over the years.

The avenue turned over a new leaf after Hurricane Katrina when the St. Charles Avenue Association, formed in 1972, ramped up its efforts to restore the lush green canopy.

Raising more than $300,000 in private funds, the volunteer organization planted more than 300 trees on the avenue.

The association, which now lists 400-plus members, gathered recently at Iberia Bank on St. Charles Avenue to toast another successful year and to elect a new slate of officers.

Outgoing President Ted LeClercq spoke on the recent accomplishments of the group. LeClercq is moving on to the top spot in the Preservation Resource Center.

“Everyone who came back after Hurricane Katrina made the decision to stay,” he said. “It’s up to all of us to try to make New Orleans better.”

LeClercq spoke about challenges of the past summer, when Hurricane Isaac inflicted another blow to the urban forest. The group raised more than $35,000 to tackle the damage, he said.

In addition, SCAA also spearheaded legislation that eventually could allow the St. Charles Avenue historic district to be extended up St. Charles from Jena to the Riverbend.

At the annual meeting, SCAA welcomed a surprise visit from District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry — taking a break from city budget hearings — and her husband, Hervin Guidry.

This year’s SCAA board members are: Anne Redd, Laura Shields, Tommy Westervelt of Iberia Bank, Louellen Berger, Bret A. Clesi, Tony Gelderman, Odom Heebe Jr., Susan K. Hoskins, Ted LeClercq and Camille Strachan.

Other nature-loving notables at the party were Sally Reeves, one of the founders of SCAA; Philip Claverie Sr.; Don Hubbard; Sheila Collins; former SCCAA President John Geiser; Chip Flower; Cindy and John Woessner; and Bonnie Broel.

In its latest project, the association is working to have the St. Charles Avenue line and its historic streetcar named a National Historic Landmark.

The group recently won the approval of the RTA to go forward with the project, LeClercq said. Historic status would ensure the preservation of the streetcar line and give it the same national prominence as San Francisco’s cable cars and other New Orleans landmarks such as the French Quarter.

The association can be found on Facebook, or write to P.O. Box 15833, New Orleans, LA, 70175-5833, for more information.