Audubon Shares Draft of Proposed Park Plans
With the waters of the Mississippi River right outside, the public and Audubon Nature Institute officials gathered last night to discuss plans to create one of the largest continuous riverfront parks in the country.
The project is called Riverfront for All and would create park and recreation space that would span the riverfront from Spanish Plaza through Woldenberg Park all the way to the Governor Nicholls and Esplanade Avenue wharves. Those attending the meeting saw a draft of the proposed development from architects Eskew + Dumez + Ripple who have partnered with Audubon in the creation of the plans.
“Our mission when we first developed Audubon Aquarium and Woldenberg Riverfront Park was to give people access to the front porch of the city. Providing more public green space and taking advantage of the natural resources along the riverfront reconnects us to the historic birthplace of the city,” said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO. “The city started to open up the riverfront years ago with the 1984 World’s Fair and this project is the final link to create a walkable and usable riverfront that will benefit the entire community.”
Tourism leaders expressed their support of the park space, saying it follows a nationwide trend to create greenspaces and recreational facilities on riverfronts.”
“This project is transformational. These parks link the Bywater all the way to the Warehouse District and all the downriver neighborhoods in between in the most aesthetic, walkable, accessible way possible along the Mississippi Riverfront,” said Walter J. Leger, III, President & CEO of New Orleans & Company. “This polishes the jewel in the crown of our great city. Residents and visitors alike want authentic experiences, outdoor options and spaces, and walkable cities. This will be great for residents and help us continue to bring visitors from across the country and around the globe to New Orleans and will further drive our state’s economy.”
The approximately 100 people attending the meeting asked questions and offered suggestions for the final version of the plan. One French Quarter resident who has attended three other public hearings on the plan over the years said she was happy that past public suggestions had been incorporated into the plan presented at the meeting. She also said she hoped the park will be open 24 hours a day to allow local residents access at any time of the day or night, and said she was excited to see the plan move forward.
“Providing easy and enjoyable access to the riverfront is the right thing to do. This project enhances and expands the riverfront from Spanish Plaza to the Bywater and my neighborhood,” said Jared Mouradian, St. Roch resident, landlord, and New Orleans attorney. “Making more of the city accessible and offering new ways to explore it benefits everyone. This is a win for my friends, neighbors, guests, and coworkers.”
The Riverfront for All project is an historic opportunity to create one of the longest riverfront parks in the nation. The project is the final link from Crescent Park in the Bywater neighborhood to Spanish Plaza at the foot of Canal Street and spans 2¼ miles of riverfront. It will also benefit those who live in other parts of the city.
“Living on the West bank within blocks of the Mississippi River for 20 years, I know how much access to the river and public green space contributes to our quality of life. We use the riverfront paths daily for exercise, recreation, and commuting,” said Emily Madero with French Quarter Festivals, Inc. “Expanding public park and riverfront access will be a tremendous asset for folks living in the adjacent neighborhoods--and it opens up a key recreational and commuter corridor making it possible to safely walk, run, or bike from Gretna to the Bywater free from automobile interaction.”
The next step in the project is to incorporate public input into the draft and submit it to the City of New Orleans for approval. Members of the public can see the proposal and submit their feedback on the project through the end of the month by visiting https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/riverfront-for-all
If approved, construction could begin as soon as August 2024.