New Orleans Will Add First New Park to City in 20 Years

June 8, 2010

The first new city park in New Orleans in 20 years will be created on an 18-acre parcel of land along the Lafitte Corridor in Mid-City, The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, announced today.

The proposed park will be included in the proposed Lafitte Greenway, a three-mile long corridor which is being developed by the city. The park is located between North Claiborne Avenue and North Dorgenois Street, across from the Lafitte Community redevelopment.

"We are happy to have assisted the City with the acquisition of the first brand new park in the city since before Katrina," said Larry Schmidt, Director of TPL's New Orleans office. "We look forward to helping connect residents of the Vieux Carre, Treme, Mid City, and Lakeview with this great new urban greenway, increasing public access and enjoyment of public land."

"I am supportive of the Lafitte Greenway project and what it can mean for the future in terms of smart land use," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "It's an important project from an urban planning perspective and is a valuable recreational green space that can be utilized and enjoyed by the entire community. We are grateful for the collaboration with the Trust for Public Land in this acquisition."

The $3.8 million dollar cost of the park was funded from a Community Development Block Grant. The Trust for Public Land's ability to acquire the property and hold it for the City was made possible by a combination of foundation and corporate support from MetLife Foundation, The Helis Foundation and ExxonMobil.

"MetLife Foundation is committed to building healthy communities with safe places for recreation and relaxation" said Dennis White, president of MetLife Foundation. "We are pleased to join the Trust for Public Land and City of New Orleans in creating this new park and continuing the important redevelopment that has taken place since Katrina.

The property had been owned by LIFT, a film production company which went bankrupt. TPL bought the property from Trustworthy Real Estate L.L.C. after a two-year bankruptcy and foreclose process was completed in the summer of 2009.

The Lafitte Corridor is a three-mile stretch of former Southern Railroad track which goes through the heart of some of the city's most historic neighborhoods, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The land was originally part of the Carondelet Canal, which was built in 1793 by the Spanish to supply commercial goods to the French Quarter.

Bart Everson, President of the Friends of the Lafitte Corridor (FOLC), said the citizen-based advocacy group is "dedicated to preserving the Corridor for development with bicycle and pedestrian paths linking neighborhoods, cultural features, historic sites and retail areas along the greenway."

The Lafitte Greenway planning process is about to begin and will include opportunities for public input and participation in the design process. The city has set aside $8 million for development of the greenway.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on its longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Grants support education, health, civic, and cultural programs. In youth development, MetLife Foundation funds initiatives that promote mentoring and provide safe places and constructive activities for young people, particularly during out-of-school time. The Foundation has contributed $4.1 million to The Trust for Public Land to bring parks and playgrounds to low- and moderate-income urban communities. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.

TPL is a national conservation organization, dedicated to preserving open space for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, gardens, and wilderness. Since it was created in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.5 million acres in 47 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.