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Report on City Park meeting by Elizabeth Cook

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  • les evenchick
    Mike Howells and I attended the hearing on the master plan for city park yesterday, and were able to voice opposition to the plan, and the involvement of Fore
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2007
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      Mike Howells and I attended the hearing on the
      master plan for city
      park
      yesterday, and were able to voice opposition to the
      plan, and the
      involvement of Fore Kids Foundation. That foundation
      has been chosen by
      HUD
      to demolish and redevelop the St. Bernard Housing
      Development. Also in
      attendance were Paul Troyano of Pax Christi and Henri
      Andre of the
      Committee
      to Reopen Charity Hospital. Fore Kids Foundation
      plans so-called
      "mixed
      income" housing and a golf course, among other things,
      for the St.
      Bernard
      Development. A spokesman for the Bayou District
      Foundation was present.
      That
      foundation is one of several local non-profits that
      are part of the
      Fore
      Kids Foundation. Fore Kids Foundation is also
      proposing the golf course
      that
      would turn two-thirds of city park into an expensive,
      PGA-style golf
      course.

      Many were supportive of our comments, and there will
      be other hearings
      on
      this "master plan".

      elizabeth cook

      http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/09/residents_react_to_city_park_p.html

      Residents react to City Park plan
      Posted by tortenzi September 25, 2007 10:32PM
      By Frank Donze
      Staff writer

      An attentive crowd of more than 200 people applauded
      warmly Tuesday
      night
      after each of three presentations on proposals to
      develop a children's
      museum, a television studio and a state-of-the-art
      golf complex on the
      grounds of New Orleans' City Park.

      But when it came time for those in attendance to
      comment on the
      proposals,
      words of support were few and far between.

      "There's no shortage of empty real estate out there,"
      said David Muth,
      referring to the vast swaths of property in the city
      left vacant by
      Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters. "We don't need to
      turn this park into
      a
      highly developed, money-making operation."


      As they did after more than a dozen other speakers
      expressed similar
      sentiments, many in the audience at the park's
      Pavilion of the Two
      Sisters
      cheered loudly as Muth took his seat.

      Although no one directly criticized representatives of
      the Louisiana
      Children's Museum or Louisiana Public Broadcasting for
      suggesting that
      their
      new facilities become part of City Park's master plan,
      it was clear
      that few
      who came to hear the proposals were buying the
      argument that the
      developments would enhance the park.

      "A park is green space," Joseph Hooter said. "Once you
      take that green
      space, you'll never get it back."

      Ed Mathes implored park officials not to be tempted by
      developers
      bearing
      revenue-generating concepts. "If you're not careful
      about precedents,"
      he
      said, "you'll get a long line of people waiting to
      come in."

      Leo Watermeier, who urged the Children's Museum to
      remain at its Julia
      Street location in the Warehouse District, noted that
      City Park's
      current
      zoning doesn't permit construction of a television or
      radio station.

      "Restore City Park, don't develop City Park," he said.

      One of the few supporters for the children's museum
      and studio
      proposals was
      John Bullard, director of the New Orleans Museum of
      Art, who said "new
      cultural institutions" such as those suggested would
      only "complement"
      the
      museum, which is at the park's southeast corner.

      Some of the harshest criticism was reserved for the
      Fore!Kids
      Foundation,
      which wants to replace the park's storm-battered golf
      courses with a
      state-of-the-art complex capable of hosting PGA Tour
      events.

      The golf course project, to be overseen by the
      nonprofit Bayou District

      Foundation, would be part of a $240 million
      development that also would

      include construction of more than 1,100 units of
      mixed-income housing,
      two
      400-pupil charter schools and a YMCA family center,
      all on or near the
      site
      of the soon-to-be-demolished St. Bernard public
      housing complex.

      "Who is served by championship (golf) courses?"
      Michael Easley asked.
      "Once
      the princes of the tour go home, who will play these
      courses?"

      Housing advocate Elizabeth Cook said she found it
      "appalling" and
      "obscene"
      to be discussing golf courses while thousands of New
      Orleanians remain
      displaced two years after Katrina.

      The primary purpose of Tuesday night's hearing was to
      provide the
      public
      with an update on the park's 13-year, $115 million
      master plan, adopted

      before Katrina, that includes a range of new
      attractions across its
      1,300
      acres, from a skate park and children's water-play
      area to an
      amphitheater.

      Most of those ideas were warmly received. In fact,
      some speakers said
      the
      proposed skate park should be expanded.

      Proponents of the new and expanded Children's Museum
      project have their
      eyes
      on a 12-acre site on the north side of Roosevelt Mall,
      the street that
      runs
      alongside Tad Gormley Stadium.

      Julia Bland, the museum's executive director, said the
      facility would
      focus
      on early childhood development and would include a
      parenting center run
      by
      Children's Hospital and a public library branch
      catering to children's
      needs.

      Bland said the new museum would address one of the
      state's most
      pressing
      needs. "Forty-eight states do a better job of raising
      children than
      Louisiana," she said.

      Louisiana Public Broadcasting President Beth Courtney
      said the
      preferred
      site for the proposed TV studio is on the south side
      of Roosevelt Mall,
      east
      of the stadium.

      She said LPB officials are budgeting about $16 million
      to build the
      studio.
      The Tipitina's Foundation has agreed to be a partner
      in the project,
      which
      also would include a music museum for children's
      education.

      A few speakers said neither the museum nor the studio
      could operate
      without
      substantial parking lots, which could destroy the
      ambiance along one of
      the
      park's premier boulevards.

      "Roosevelt Mall is the perfect intersection of use and
      nature," Faye
      Prince
      said. "I can't imagine that you would want to turn it
      into a strip
      mall."

      Robert Becker, the park's chief executive officer,
      emphasized that the
      ideas
      on the table did not come from his staff or the City
      Park Improvement
      Association. "These are proposals made to the park
      board," Becker said.

      "These are not park proposals."

      Frank Donze can be reached at fdonze@...
      or
      (504)¤826-3328.


      One of the few supporters for the children's museum
      and studio
      proposals was
      John Bullard, director of the New Orleans Museum of
      Art, who said "new
      cultural institutions" such as those suggested would
      only "complement"
      the
      museum, which is at the park's southeast corner.

      Some of the harshest criticism was reserved for the
      Fore!Kids
      Foundation,
      which wants to replace the park's storm-battered golf
      courses with a
      state-of-the-art complex capable of hosting PGA Tour
      events.

      The golf course project, to be overseen by the
      nonprofit Bayou District

      Foundation, would be part of a $240 million
      development that also would

      include construction of more than 1,100 units of
      mixed-income housing,
      two
      400-pupil charter schools and a YMCA family center,
      all on or near the
      site
      of the soon-to-be-demolished St. Bernard public
      housing complex.

      "Who is served by championship (golf) courses?"
      Michael Easley asked.
      "Once
      the princes of the tour go home, who will play these
      courses?"

      Housing advocate Elizabeth Cook said she found it
      "appalling" and
      "obscene"
      to be discussing golf courses while thousands of New
      Orleanians remain
      displaced two years after Katrina.

      The primary purpose of Tuesday night's hearing was to
      provide the
      public
      with an update on the park's 13-year, $115 million
      master plan, adopted

      before Katrina, that includes a range of new
      attractions across its
      1,300
      acres, from a skate park and children's water-play
      area to an
      amphitheater.

      Most of those ideas were warmly received. In fact,
      some speakers said
      the
      proposed skate park should be expanded.

      Proponents of the new and expanded Children's Museum
      project have their
      eyes
      on a 12-acre site on the north side of Roosevelt Mall,
      the street that
      runs
      alongside Tad Gormley Stadium.

      Julia Bland, the museum's executive director, said the
      facility would
      focus
      on early childhood development and would include a
      parenting center run
      by
      Children's Hospital and a public library branch
      catering to children's
      needs.

      Bland said the new museum would address one of the
      state's most
      pressing
      needs. "Forty-eight states do a better job of raising
      children than
      Louisiana," she said.

      Louisiana Public Broadcasting President Beth Courtney
      said the
      preferred
      site for the proposed TV studio is on the south side
      of Roosevelt Mall,
      east
      of the stadium.

      She said LPB officials are budgeting about $16 million
      to build the
      studio.
      The Tipitina's Foundation has agreed to be a partner
      in the project,
      which
      also would include a music museum for children's
      education.

      A few speakers said neither the museum nor the studio
      could operate
      without
      substantial parking lots, which could destroy the
      ambiance along one of
      the
      park's premier boulevards.

      "Roosevelt Mall is the perfect intersection of use and
      nature," Faye
      Prince
      said. "I can't imagine that you would want to turn it
      into a strip
      mall."

      Robert Becker, the park's chief executive officer,
      emphasized that the
      ideas
      on the table did not come from his staff or the City
      Park Improvement
      Association. "These are proposals made to the park
      board," Becker said.

      "These are not park proposals."

      Frank Donze can be reached at fdonze@...
      or
      (504)¤826-3328.



      Les Evenchick
      New Orleans
      piratefish@...
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