By Claire Byun
Audubon neighborhood are hoping to kickstart a process to cool down some extra hot playground equipment in a park off Annunciation Street.
John Chappell, president of the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association, has been working to get a shade sail above the Alma Peters playground. Chappell, who brought up the issue at the organization’s meeting Thursday, said New Orleans’ toasty climate is no good for metal playgrounds.
He said he would take his two young children to the park during sunny days but, because of the sun, the kids would burn their hands on the equipment.
“It can cause contact burns on the skin, and if you’ve ever been to the park on a sunny day you can feel it,” Chappell said.
Chappell is hoping to get a shade sail placed over the playground, but he’s looking for help from local businesses and city staff. The neighborhood association hasn’t researched the exact cost of those sails — or how much it’d cost to install them — but ARNA is already planning to fundraise whatever is needed.
The first step, Chappell said, is to reach out to the park’s neighbors and see if anything has any other suggestions or resistance to the shade proposal. If ARNA has full support of those who use the park most often, it’ll be easier to get the proposed structures through city regulations.
“I really think people who might be the first to voice an opinion on this are people who live near the park,” Chappell said.
Chappell already has some support from The Lauren Savoy Olinde Foundation — including possible funding — though ARNA wants to corral some community input before proceeding.
Palmer Park’s playground has a set of sails, though that park is under the supervision of the city’s Parks and Parkways Department. Laura Mellem, representative from Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office, told the group she’d check if the city is planning any other projects or structures for the area.
After determining the community’s reaction, the next step is estimating the cost of the structures. If ARNA can commission a design and engineer it offsite, that may cut down costs, Chappell added.
Celeste Marshall, board member, suggested soliciting help from the Magazine Street Business Association to pay for the sails.
If Palmer Park already has shade sails, neighbor Phyllis Raabe said there’s hope for Alma Peter’s playground. Since there’s already a local example of the large structures, the city may be able to make money available to cool down the equipment.
“There may be ways in which there’s already an avenue of funding,” she said.
Chappell said he’s aiming to have the shade sails in place as early as next spring.
Claire Byun is a freelance reporter based in New Orleans.