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State of Louisiana Awards Funds for New Orleans Playground, Park Improvements

Aug. 26, 2011

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit has awarded $888,227 in disaster recovery funding to the City of New Orleans for renovations to the Norwood Thompson Playground and improvements to the St. Roch Pool and Park, allowing city officials to access funds needed to implement the two projects.

The two awards are funded with Community Development Block Grant dollars disbursed through the state’s Long Term Community Recovery program, a $700 million pool of federal disaster recovery money set aside by the OCD-DRU to help local governments rebuild and implement long-term recovery plans.

The larger award, $661,874, will be used to repair the Norwood Thompson Playground in the Gert Town neighborhood of New Orleans, where up to nine feet of floodwater from Hurricane Katrina damaged the playground facilities. The estimated cost of the project is $696,553, with FEMA bridging the funding gap.

The remaining $226,353 will be combined with other federal, state and local funds to improve the St. Roch Pool and Park complex in the St. Roch neighborhood, where FEMA used the park’s 5.25 acres of open green space to house emergency trailers after the storm. The estimated total cost of the project approaches $1.6 million.

OCD-DRU Executive Director Pat Forbes said, “Having parks and playgrounds is a vital part in the full recovery of our neighborhoods, creating places where people can re-connect with one another and the outdoors.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “Parks, playgrounds and pools greatly enhance the quality of life for our residents. We know that the path to a safer, more prosperous New Orleans includes quality recreation facilities andprogramming. We will continue to invest in these vital projects to provide more and better opportunities for our kids.”

The Norwood Thompson Playground, which lies just south of the Pontchartrain Expressway between South Broad and Julia streets, once served 3,335 Gert Town residents who used the playground as a community center for outdoor activities.

The CDBG funds will help residents recover use of the Katrina-shuttered park by allowing the city to remove and replace fencing around the basketball court, baseball back stop, bleachers and park perimeter; construct a new water fountain; repair and enhance the concession building; renovate the bathrooms; install new basketball goals; stripe the basketball court and baseball field; replace picnic tables and benches; and make landscaping improvements.

The St. Roch Pool and Park complex, situated in a mixed-income, multi-generational area bounded by Florida Avenue, St. Claude Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Elysian Fields, serves approximately 38,311 residents in an historic neighborhood that has played an important role in African-American culture in New Orleans.

This area has been slow to recover and the CDBG funds will help the neighborhood regain its pre-Katrina vitality by allowing the city to create open green space; install a multi-use pathway around the park; plant new shade trees; replace the old baseball field and basketball court with two new baseball fields, a double batting cage and a new basketball court; and construct a new, raised-foundation concession building with storage, bathroom facilities and shaded seating area.

The 12,190 square-foot pool will be restored by FEMA.

In total, the OCD-DRU has allocated $410,720,016 of CDBG funding to the city of New Orleans for LTCR projects.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.