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Consideration of Amendments to the Park Master Plan

February 2014

Consideration of Amendments to the Park Master Plan

The Board of Commissioners of the New Orleans City Park Improvement Association annually reviews and periodically amends a Master Plan for the development of the Park.   (Act 865, Section 3 of the Regular Session of the 1982 Legislature).
The amendments to the Master Plan under consideration (1.) reflect new locations for the Splash Park and Maintenance Complex and (2) delete a catering building and ball diamond from the plan, and (3) reaffirm the location of the Louisiana Children’s Museum and (4.) provide for other technical modifications associated therewith.
Background of previous Master Plan actions:
The Park’s Master Plan was adopted on March 29, 2005 and subsequently amended in November 2007, May 2009 and March 2011.  The goal of the plan was and is, to make City Park the premiere urban park in the nation and to insure that the Park is financially sound so that it can be properly maintained and offer its extensive facilities and programs to the public.
Proposed changes to the plan
1.  Change the location of the Splash Park and the location of the Maintenance Complex.
The current Master Plan shows the location of the Splash Park at the intersection of City Park Avenue and Marconi.  It also shows an expansion area for the Splash Park going across Irby Street into the square bounded by Irby, Dreyfous, Anseman, and Victory.  Given the success of City Putt and the already heavy concentration of uses (Amusements, Storyland, Botanical Garden, Morning Call, Sculpture Garden, Peristyle) in the area, management believes that locating the splash park at that location would overburden the parking and roadways in the area.  The proposed new location is between Palm Dr. and the Rail Road tracks between the Administration Building and Golf Drive.  In this location we have the opportunity to build substantial parking in a way which won’t detract from the park’s appearance and place the facility where its seasonal use should minimally impact other park uses.  The parking built for the splash park will also be useful in addressing parking demand in the area which occurs when special events are scheduled.

To implement this change the Land Use element would change the former location of the Splash Park from K (Family/Amusement) to M (Undeveloped open area) and O (Vehicular Circulation/Parking) on the expansion site which is its present use.  The new area for the Splash Park would change from A (Active Recreation/Sports) to K (Family / Amusement area).  Changes to the Strategic Plan and Restoration and Development Plan element would be made to reflect the move.

The current Master Plan anticipated repairing of the old maintenance buildings along Golf Drive near the Zachery Taylor underpass as the location for new maintenance facilities.  Unfortunately the buildings were so badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina that a good portion of them had to be torn down and thus the site is not suitable for a maintenance complex.  Management proposes to build a new maintenance complex adjacent to the Celebration warehouse along the Railroad tracks in the area already designated for park support activities.  This area adjacent to the tracks will allow us to build a modern maintenance complex with minimal impact on park usage. In addition having a modern maintenance facility will allow us to move our maintenance operation from the Quadraplex thus allowing it to fully reopen.  The new maintenance complex will be placed in an area already used as a service corridor in the center of the park for easy access to other park areas.  We hope to renovate what remains of the old maintenance buildings into support facilities for the splash park and our food and beverage operation.  No change in the land use plan is necessary however a modification to the Strategic Plan element and Restoration and Development Plan element would be made to reflect the move.

2.  Delete a new catering building and ball diamond from the plan

The new catering building would be deleted from the Restoration and Development Plan element as we have already renovated an existing building for that purpose.  The ball diamond would be deleted from the same element near the Harrison circle as we anticipate moving disc golf to that location.

3.  Reaffirm the location of the Louisiana Children’s Museum relocation
In November of 2007, the Master Plan was amended to reserve a site for the future relocation of the Louisiana Children’s Museum’s Early Learning Village project which included the relocation of the Children’s Museum from the CBD and the addition of various other components such as an early care and learning center, a performing arts space, a teacher resource center, an edible garden and a small nature center   (The addition of an additional cultural museum to the Park was a part of the original 2005 Master Plan)  The original proposal called for a building complex of approximately 120,000 square feet.  The Park approved a site opposite the Festival Grounds on golf drive and authorized staff to negotiate the final agreements with the LCM.  Subsequently the LCM substantially downsized their plans to an indoor building program of approximately 51,000 square feet plus substantial outdoor activity space.  This reduced building program is much more sensitive to the site area while achieving all of the Museum’s goals.  The site area has also been substantially reduced from the originally approved 12 acres (the LCM originally requested 35 acres) to 8.4 acres, again more in line with their program concept.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum has also made substantial progress in their fund raising efforts.   Park Management recommends reaffirming the location of the LCM project and approving the 8.4 acre site for a formal agreement.

4.  Technical changes

Management recommends removing the Skate Park and Multi-Purpose Building from the Restoration and Development Plan while leaving them as plan elements but without a specific location.  We believe these uses still are important in the plan but since no funding has been received for them, the size, scale and configuration of these uses cannot be determined.  Therefore we think it important to leave them as plan elements but without a specific location.   A specific location can be considered if funding is identified in the future.

Finally, we recommend removing the word “undeveloped” from the land use plan designations of undeveloped open areas.  This wording has mistakenly implied that areas designated “undeveloped open areas” have no development on them when in fact many of these areas have jogging and biking paths, gazebos, fountains, sculpture and other uses.  These areas are more properly called “open areas”.
We will also make technical adjustments to other parts of the plan to reflect these changes and changes to the budget and financing sections of the plan to reflect current costs.

Management Recommendation:  Management recommends approval of the amendments to the Master Plan to reflect the change in location of the Splash Park and Maintenance Complex removal of the new catering building and ball diamond, reaffirmation of the site of the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and other technical changes.

TWEETS FROM THE PARK:

CITY PARK FACTS:

Mexico-born sculptor Enrique "Ricky" Alferez was the creative lead on the 1930's WPA work in City Park. His Art Deco bas-relief works and sculpture is scattered throughout the park.