Sign petition to urge New Orleans City Hall to keep the complete restoration and revitalization of Louis Armstrong Park a priority.
The Louis Armstrong park gates have been open for a while now and the official opening ceremony was held on November 18. The renovated portion of the park looks gorgeous, the new statues and landscaping are wonderful. And most of all, it's been great to see people in the park again!
However, there are still some issues that need tending to.
One of the most important things would be to establish opening hours for the park and have them, along with a map of the park, posted on signs by each entrance. The park now seems to close between five and six pm but there have been days when the gates haven't opened at all. I think it would be great if the park stayed open to nine or ten pm, especially in the summer's heat. That way citizens would have a chance to enjoy it after they get off from work.
The entire Tremé side of the park (Orleans Avenue, N. Villere and St. Philip Streets) looks more like a neglected parking lot than an inviting park. Some of the construction still seems to be going on but as of now it doesn't look like the goal is very "park-like". It also seems that the gates on N. Villere are only open for theatre patrons, not on daily bases.
Some of the existing parking area should be reclaimed for the park and introduction of more greenery, possibly a picnic area, tennis courts, extended walking paths and outdoor gym stations, cafés and/or restaurants and weekly or semiweekly fruit/vegetable/farmers' market would be welcomed. (As far as parking concerns for Mahalia Jackson Theatre, there is ample alternative parking available in the vicinity, on N. Rampart and Basin Streets and in the French Quarter.)
The Basin Street corner of the park would be perfect for a children's playground with the existing trees providing shade and the fence providing security.
It also would be vital to restore the buildings inside the park. Perseverance Hall, Rabassa House and two other historical buildings are under a 99-year lease, signed in 1999 by the City Of New Orleans and the National Park Service who now has control of the buildings. Before the 2005 floods there was some activity in them (including the operations local music station WWOZ) but for the past six years the have been left unattended. National Park Service finally resumed some of its operations in Perseverance Hall this July.
And then there is the Municipal Auditorium that has been basically abandoned since the 2005 floods. This beautiful building that originally opened in 1930 has hosted a multitude of historical concerts of stars like Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and Led Zeppelin. There have been several announcements as to its revitalization plans, mostly in 2009, but no action thus far.
So, even though the park is open, there still remains a lot to be done, which is why I intend on keeping this petition going. I think it's very important that the City Of New Orleans realizes how many people, both locally and globally, are concerned about the future of Louis Armstrong Park. I also hope that all the signed petitions are regarded as a form of encouragement and support, not as complaints.
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"Louis Armstrong Park is a 32-acre (130,000 m2) park located in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. It was designed by New Orleans architect Robin Riley. The park contains the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, Congo Square, and part of the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. The park was also home to the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The park is named after jazz musician Louis Armstrong." (Wikipedia)