by Will Abberger, Vice President, Director of Conservation Finance
The Trust for Public Land
On Saturday, May 4, Orleans Parish voters will have an opportunity to vote “Yes” to enhance places where kids and adults can run, play, experience nature, while improving stormwater management—all without increasing taxes. The Trust for Public Land urges Orleans Parish voters to vote “Yes” for parks and people. The Trust for Public Land is one of the nation’s foremost park experts. At the request of New Orleans’ park providers—City Park, NORDC, Parks and Parkways, and the Audubon Commission—The Trust for Public Land worked for three years to find ways to collaborate and strengthen New Orleans’ parks for all of its residents. The result of this partnership was a proposal to more equitably fund New Orleans parks to improve parks and recreation area safety, repair and upgrade playgrounds, conserve natural areas, provide natural flood water storage, and make parks more accessible.
The Lower Garden District Association is hosting a volunteer “Park Work Day” in Coliseum Square Park this Saturday at 10 a.m.
The goal of the day will be to plant some beautiful flowers (provided by Parks and Parkways) around Lafon Fountain. Volunteers meet at Lafon Fountain, Camp and Terpsichore streets. It’s a chance to meet neighbors and get some exercise in before French Quarter Festival. For more information and to RSVP, go to the event Facebook page. The association’s April meeting will be held on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Felicity Church, 1220 Felicity.
Green space restoration has begun on Louisiana and Jefferson avenues, the Southeast Louisiana (SELA) Urban Flood Control Project announced. Crape myrtles and hollies have been planted on Louisiana Avenue and magnolias have been planted on Jefferson Avenue. The plantings are a final stage in a massive years-long drainage project.
An independent New Orleans research group is backing the proposal to replace three existing property taxes into one millage for citywide parks and recreation. But there’s a caveat: If passed, the city is urged to monitor the park agencies’ spending plans and performance outlined in a cooperative endeavor agreement. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit public-policy research organization, released this morning their study on the City-Wide Parks and Recreation Proposal. The proposal allows the city to reallocate taxpayer revenue for park spaces, while tacking on inter-agency cooperation among the city’s four park powers: City Park, the Audubon Commission, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, and Parks and Parkways. This ordinance does not include tax increases for residents; it just redistributes current revenue to help improve citywide infrastructure while assisting the lesser-funded agencies.
Hoffman Triangle residents are invited to come out to Taylor Park on Saturday, April 6, from noon to 2 p.m. for a family-friendly event to learn about ways they can reduce flooding by planting trees, installing rain barrels and reducing paving. “Many neighborhoods in New Orleans, including the Hoffman Triangle, are vulnerable to repeated flooding,” said Dana Eness, executive director of the Urban Conservancy. The Urban Conservancy is working with Launch NOLA Green, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL), Green Light New Orleans, Water Block, and the city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability — as well as Hoffman Triangle residents, churches, schools and others — to improve the neighborhood’s stormwater conditions. “This event is part of a larger outreach effort aimed at understanding community needs, assets and growth opportunities” says Atianna Cordova, founder of Water Block and outreach manager for the project. At the Green Your Neighborhood event, Hoffman Triangle residents can learn about effective stormwater management techniques and resources to help reduce flooding on their properties and on their streets.
New Orleans officials have been rethinking how the city’s parks, recreation and greenspace are organized and managed. To inform New Orleanians of the whys, hows and whats of citywide master park and recreation planning, Parks For All is sponsoring a forum, “Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Planning: International Best Practices and their Application to New Orleans.” It will feature Kurt Culbertson, a longtime leader in sustainable development. Culbertson, an LSU alumnus, will offer “perspectives gained through 40 years of experience in the planning and design of park and recreation systems and reflections on the application of these lessons to the needs of New Orleans,” the event flier says. Culbertson, the 2016 recipient of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ highest award, is chairman and CEO of an urban design and landscape architecture consulting firm, the Design Workshop.
Friends of Lafitte Greenway’s 13th annual Big Hike event will be reborn as a full-on festival this year. On Saturday, March 23, “The Hike: Tunes, Tales, and Trails Festival” will bring music, food, and libations to the Greenway. Hosted in partnership with the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission, Hike Fest will celebrate the Lafitte Greenway with an all-day lineup of live music featuring Corey Henry & the Treme Funktet, acclaimed singer Robin Barnes, TBC Brass Band, Cajun band Michot’s Melody Makers with members of Lost Bayou Ramblers, Funk Griot, and the Trombone Shorty Music Academy. Headlining the 2019 Hike Fest: Corey Henry & the Treme Funktet and Robin Barnes
The festival will also highlight the area’s food, drink, and craft vendors from along the Greenway neighborhoods, including Clesi’s Seafood, Liberty’s Kitchen, and Quintin’s Natural Ice Cream; kids activities; and the organization’s signature guided walking tours of the Greenway. During this free, family-friendly celebration, participants will also have the opportunity to share stories about the Greenway and contribute to the vision for the future of this unique public space.
The special election that includes the proposal to reallocate the funding for the city’s parks and recreation facilities will take place May 4 — on the second weekend of Jazz Fest, Claire Byun reports in Mid-City Messenger, a day that many locals plan to spend listening to Galactic or Aaron Neville, not heading into the voting booth for a single issue. Bob Becker, CEO of City Park, which could get its first city funding under the measure, explained the timing to members of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization on Monday. “There are only so many dates, and this is one agreed upon by [park leadership] and city and state officials,” Becker said.
The City Council on Thursday passed the cooperative endeavor agreement that unites the four major entities that manage greenspace and recreation facilities for the city, although it would take effect without the passage of a millage reallocation that goes on the ballot in May. The agreement unifies the oversight for the city’s park and recreation assets under the cooperative plan. It includes City Park, the Audubon Commission, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, and Parks and Parkways. On May 4, New Orleans voters will decide whether readjust the property tax funds going to those four entities, triggering the cooperative endeavor agreement. Councilman Joseph Giarrusso of District A commented on the timing of the measure, while stating that he supports it.