The Carrollton Boosters are withdrawing their plan to create a new sports complex on the Audubon Riverview park known as The Fly, following two months of protests by activists who said the project claimed too much valuable open space along the Mississippi River.
Project organizer John Payne announced Monday morning that he would be returning the $4 million raised for the project because it had become “too divisive,” and the Carrollton Boosters quickly made the following announcement:
Based on the decision by John Payne, who designed and raised the funds for the proposed Sports Complex, it is with deep regret that I announce that Carrollton Boosters is withdrawing its proposal to bring additional recreational opportunities to Audubon Riverview Park, also known as The Fly, said Rini Marcus, president of the Carrollton Boosters board of directors.
For the past several months our organization and Audubon Commission has worked tirelessly to address concerns expressed by the community in an effort to devise a revised plan for how to best expand youth athletics in New Orleans while preserving one of our city’s precious green spaces.
Unfortunately, those discussions have failed to yield consensus on a way forward. Carrollton Boosters provides sports programming for children from 135 different schools and approximately 4,200 families. With this proposed soccer project, our organization’s only goal was to further our mission of cultivating a spirit of sportsmanship, teamwork and competition within our community.
Project organizers and some opponents had been negotiating on an alternative plan to move the stadium back away from the river, taking up less of the open space at The Fly, though activists were internally split on whether to accept any compromise. Meanwhile, details of the plan itself came under increasing scrutiny, such as a deal that would have steered alcohol sales at the park to companies led by two Audubon Commission board members.
Opponents of the project had also asked for special zoning protections for The Fly, and neighborhood activist Keith Hardie said during a February hearing on the issue the City Council should have greater oversight on major projects within institutions like Audubon. The city of New Orleans will reopen its Master Plan for amendments in a process starting April 11, and the Save the Fly Facebook page alluded to future battles over the control of The Fly moving forward.
“The development is dead,” the page concluded. “But be forewarned, we will continue the fight to have the Master Plan and the comprehensive zoning ordinance changed so as to protect our green spaces from the threat of these developments in the future!”
The Carrollton Boosters have not said what their plans will be moving forward, but the city is preparing to build a new concessions facility near the fields at the Cuccia-Barnes park in Hollygrove that the organization also uses.