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Wisner Tract Master Plan Public Meeting

Wisner Tract Map

Wisner Tract Map

The latest Wisner Tract Public Meeting was on

Wednesday, January 15th
Location: Pavilion of Two Sisters: 1 Victory Ave, New Orleans, LA 70124

2 identical sessions were held: 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm

The public was invited to attend and respond to the responses from the previous public meetings. Two options from those meeting were presented to the public on 1/15/20. Those two options are the clickable links at the bottom of this page. Please view those and the descriptions below this paragraph to go with each image. These are the two proposals shown to the public for input. Design Workshop will be revising based on feedback. No final plans have been made yet. If you would like more information or have questions about these 2 proposals, please email wisnermasterplan@nocp.org.

If you were unable to attend a meeting in person but wish to make comments about the Wisner Tract and its future, please send an email to: wisnermasterplan@nocp.org  and watch this space for updates.

The location of the Wisner Tract in the heart of the greater metropolitan area provides an incalculable opportunity to expand access to nature equitably for a large urban population with few other similar resources. Through the implementation of a mosaic of south Louisiana ecosystems – restoration of lagoon, cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, live oak forest, and meadowland habitats– the design will transform the existing disturbed landscape into a vital educational and experiential landscape for all of New Orleans and the greater region. The enhanced design will establish a safe and naturally engaging respite from the urgency of urban New Orleans. The below descriptions identify programmatic differences between two conceptual options – one option that focuses more on passive programming and healthy exploration with nature, and one option that focuses on the educational aspects of interacting with nature. Both concepts retain disc golf, a cross-country course, and the Grow Dat Youth Farm as signature current features of the Wisner Tract.

Option 1 –Nature Exploration
“Nature Exploration,” leverages the restoration of the site to support a range of programmed outdoor activities. A key part of this is a dramatically expanded trail network that includes seven different trail types designed to offer a variety of experiences, and provide inclusive opportunities to individuals of all types including those with disabilities. A primary entry to the site would be located near the current Grow Dat Youth Farm, and aim to create new Urban Ecology educational center coordinated with the educational programs offered by Grow Dat. This would allow for an entrance with a lower impact on the landscape, and leverage reconfigured parking south of I-610. Other existing parking lots would remain but be redesigned to better treat stormwater runoff. The lagoon would be expanded to include a central pond in an existing low area to provide fishing and paddling opportunities, accommodate increased stormwater, and diversify landscape typologies. While disc golf remains in its current location, its course would be enhanced with additional tree canopy and new topography. 

Option 2 - Learning with Nature
“Learning with Nature,” leverages the restoration of the site to create a hands-on learning experience across the entirety of the site. The existing lagoon is expanded to create a sinuous “blue trail”. The broader trail network is expanded as well, and made more accessible to more people, although with less variety of programmed trail types than Option 1. To create a better connection to the adjacent natural assets of City Park, the upper section of Diagonal Dr would be closed to automobile traffic and become additional parkland with a pedestrian promenade. Parking would be centralized on Diagonal Drive to reduce additional paving elsewhere on the site.  A new primary entrance is established where Harrison Avenue meets Diagonal Drive and a new Urban Ecology educational center is proposed for this area. The disc golf course would move to new location closer to Wisner Boulevard where it would be enhanced with additional tree canopy and new topography, and serve as a buffer to the habitat areas at the interior of the site.

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The Wisner Tract is 100-acre open space centrally located within City Park. It is currently the focus of a planning effort undertaken by City Park and Design Workshop, a landscape architecture firm.

FAQs:

What is the Wisner Tract?
The Wisner Tract is approximately 100 acres of former golf course bounded by Harrison, Wisner, Zachary Taylor, and Magnolia Drive. It is one of the last unprogrammed places in City Park. See map to the side of this paragraph. 

What happens there now?
The Grow Dat Youth Farm is located on one edge of it, the Disc Golf course is located there and during middle and high school cross country season there is a temporary course made for meets. However, the largest number of everyday users are numerous walkers, bicyclists, and birders who use the old golf course paths to wind their way through the landscape.

What is the history?
Pre-Katrina, it was part of one of 4 golf courses in City Park.  The Master Plan 2018 called for a reduction in the number of golf courses and after the storm the Park reduced the number of courses to two, now located between Harrison and Robert E. Lee. City Park maintained the old golf course paths, began removing invasive trees, and modified its mowing schedule to aid in attracting birds.  In 2017, after several public meetings, the City Park Board of Directors changed its Master Plan to designate the Wisner Tract as “Passive Recreation”.

What is Passive Recreation?
A space designated Passive Recreation accommodates “non-structured casual activities with minimal habitat impact; these areas are compatible with low impact and temporary uses.”

What’s in the future for the Wisner Tract?
In July 2019, City Park contracted with Design Workshop to lead a planning process to propose specific uses and programs for the Tract. At the end of the process, the result will be a detailed plan for land use, programs, landscaping, and management practices. 

What are the goals of the Wisner Tract Master Plan?
This plan will emphasize flexible, passive programming with stormwater management best practices that position the space both as an aesthetic and functional amenity to the region. A new, vibrant, and immersive nature-based design will establish a restorative escape from bustling city life, support habitat rehabilitation and ecological education, increase park visitation, and create an experience unique to New Orleans.  Temporary uses for the site will be considered if they accommodate existing uses and provide opportunity for revenue to maintain the site.

How can the public be involved?
We want the public’s input! There are currently two public meeting scheduled for September 12, 2019 and January 15, 2020. If you are unable to attend a meeting in person but wish to make comments about the Wisner Tract and its future, please send an email to: wisnermasterplan@nocp.org  and watch this space for updates.

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Option One

Option Two