New Orleans Will Add First New Park Since Katrina

An 18-acre parcel of land along the Lafitte Corridor in Mid-City will be turned into the first new park in New Orleans since before Hurricane Katrina hit, The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, announced today.

TPL, acting on behalf of the city, bought the right to purchase the property for inclusion in the proposed three-mile-long Lafitte Greenway, which is being developed by the city. The park will be located between North Claiborne Avenue and North Dorgenois Street, across from the Lafitte Community redevelopment, which broke ground last week.

“TPL is proud to announce we will buy this land and turn into the city’s first new park since Katrina,” said Will Rogers, TPL President. “We look forward to being part of New Orleans’ revitalization. This is about reconnecting people and place.”

TPL negotiated the acquisition from the current owners, Trustworthy Real Estate L.L.C., after a two-year bankruptcy and foreclosure finished earlier this summer. The property had been owned by LIFT, a film production company.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin said, “This important piece of future park land will enhance the greater Lafitte Greenway and provide recreational opportunities for residents of the Treme and Mid-City neighborhoods. I thank The Trust for Public Land for their work to acquire this land on half of the city. This is an example of the ways we are using our limited disaster recovery dollars to create a better city.”

Larry Schmidt, director of TPL’s New Orleans office, said, “We are thrilled this comes as we are finishing the redevelopment of Big Lake, in the southeast corner of City Park. This new park opportunity reinforces our commitment to this wonderful city. It will be the first new park in the city since Woldenburg Park opened in 1990.”

The land is along the Lafitte Corridor, a three-mile stretch of former railroad track passing through some of the city’s most historic and storm damaged neighborhoods. Historically, the property was part of the Carondelet Canal, built in 1793 by the Spanish to supply commercial goods to the French quarter, and is now the abandoned Southern Railroad corridor.

The Greenway plan is being developed by Design Workshop of Austin, Texas, and will provide new transportation alternatives and connect the Mid-City, Treme, French Quarter and Lakeview Communities.

New Orleans has allocated $8 million for development of the Lafitte Greenway. The addition of TPL’s 18 acres will provide a major park along it, complimenting redevelopment efforts and enhancing the fabric of the Lafitte Community.

Daniel Samuels, President of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, said, “The success of the effort between TPL and the city to secure the LIFT property ensures the process of determining the best use for this land will proceed with public input, and in tandem with the city-led Lafitte Greenway planning effort. This has been the guiding focus of Friends of Lafitte Corridor – to engage Corridor-area stakeholders in an open process of envisioning how this forgotten tract of land can best serve the needs of the community, while preserving its unique potential to connect historic neighborhoods with a spine of safe public open space.”

Dr. Jeanette Gustat, PhD, director of Tulane University’s Prevention Research Center’s core research project, said, “A park along the Lafitte Greenway will be a great destination for walkers and cyclists, and will provide people of all ages with a much needed public venue to be physically active. People who become more physically active because of this park may benefit from stress reduction, weight loss, and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, even some cancers.”

Dr. Gustat is leading an evaluation of the impact of the Lafitte Greenway on physical activity.

TPL is a national nonprofit conservation organization which protects land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Since it was created in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.5 million acres in 43 states. TPL depends upon the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.