WWL>Topics>>2-19-14 2:10pm Angela: on City Park

2-19-14 2:10pm Angela: on City Park

Feb 19, 2014|

Angela talks about the history and future of New Orleans City Park with City Park C.E.O. Bob Becker.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well it's very difficult to talk about domestic violence and and I don't know why I was just so struck by the sadness of the loss of that 22 year old young woman. And listening to her stepmother talk about all they had tried to do to safer and in fact. Nothing worked -- it is just a heartbreak. And by the way if your interest at her funeral is going to be on Thursday the 27. At the Rhodes funeral home and -- Washington 10:30 in the morning. And there is a burial fund it is the Marisa -- Duncan burial fund. And for the Q -- Johnson and that is at any capital line. Again just a reminder. That we need to resolve these issues we need to talk about this as a community. And we're not going to put up with it. Now. We are going to mentally shift here and are going to talk about something. That everybody. Everybody in this area should be so proud of literally I called the jewel in the middle of varsity -- it belongs to everyone. Months before Katrina hit a master plan was adopted for the future of city park. This is our grand jewel of -- park that was decimated by Katrina. Fabulously. The plan lived on and has been the guide for all the incredible improvements since the storm. Today we're gonna talk with one of the visionaries of that master plan the man who runs the -- day in and day out at our beautiful city park. Which now is the premier urban park in the nation. And I'm talking about Bob Becker and Bob Becker isn't that what the goal was waved before Katrina when you were thinking about this master plan. That to take city park and let it be. The premier urban park in the nation. Well you're exactly current and or when we. Dark at a park in looked at -- much look at what an incredible resource that had ban and other difficulties that the park adventure in there and periods of history. It was just apparent to the board and myself. This was a spectacular resource that. -- that would greatly under funded and and under imagine. If you will sell. We began work on that master plan which actually was adopted in march of 2005. Just a few months before could Katrina hit and. We decided at -- time name of that. We wanted to build a world class park that the people of the region -- -- -- world craft class park in that we wanted to bring that to them. And that we have trying to do that much because the goal of the plan is to. You know cricket cricket cricket world class park it was financially sound and well managed and while we won by 2018. Which. Now everybody recognizes this the 300 per day in the city and which everybody else is. Using ads -- target and I date to. Get there and their favorite project or program -- off the ground -- I believe we were actually the first organization recognized that significant. About 2018 and what it could really mean and you know all great ventures need a goal in these kind deadline and a that's something work against and twenty taking. What was hours. Bobby mentioned -- have in Iraq because. When you said it was under funded it was never flinched. Let -- sitting in the state never gained any money today. And other navigate any operating support to to the park and they gave our capital dollars over all over the years you get money from the State Capitol late bills work. The city a city bond issue but never any sustained operating support and are operating funds or that you know their heart and any major. -- parks are our operation you know good to build something that you can't maintain it. And because most of the -- infrastructure was still. -- prior to and during the WPA. Most of the water super drainage roads bridges. You know the culture of the park. Our. You know well over eighty years old and many cases over a hundred years old. And you know exactly extremely long term while bill. They could not last forever so a major goal of the on the -- on these -- of the fiscal -- I'm creating new facilities modernize facilities that we have transforming -- -- in the park to address. Meets its citizens that they want one major gold watch instantly changed to put the park on -- financial footing. So that. People in the future come along to. -- stewardship of this great quote great park you know what what -- foundation to build. You know I was there actually this past Sunday because my husband and I decided we would. Run into the new world museum. Because we want to deceive the civil war photographs. And it was a gorgeous Sunday we got it easy parking space and I looked over and by the lake. They're all these incredible families someone paddling in the water. But the ducks are out there it was just a postcard. And I thought and it ends sic park has always been work with families gathered but now there's just so much. That that people can do. That the walking trails the -- I wanna go back though to. So you've got the grand plan on everybody's excited and then the catastrophe of Katrina. And you literally. Came back to what was it anywhere from a foot and a half to eight feet of water. And I -- the park was essentially annihilated during the storm. And went from as you say about the water close to the city park avenue side to retreat water. Could Robert. Mean it became clear that. It would that total devastation and there was every single building was either destroyed her heavily damaged image. All the parks equipment was lost. We have we we didn't get Schable. Two ticker at thirteen hundred acres. In the park in you know looking you know looking around and I remember -- -- -- -- looking around trying to think to myself how can possibly bring it back. We have very little money and as a result we were forced to lay -- 90% of our staff. Went from 115 points down to concrete. In you know in -- blink of an. And ignore that no equipment or supplies and I don't know anything. If you remember and there is no power there's no phone no their email and telephone there's -- There there's nothing to connect us to anybody could really help in any way and. So that those. First couple months particularly where I'm extremely challenging. And our floor from the board members are able to get. Basically. Worked and worked in the cars and you know went home to try to deal where. I don't personal situation. How to order of business that they hadn't become the park the next day and work. And to try to try to clean up and. It was and making a struggle really to be able to do that but slowly toppled lots of people the volunteers. And then eventually. Non profit organizations. Companies that -- came and came to the city. We were able to start rebuilding some of the parks. Facility could generate some operating. Revenue for and then. Final in 2006. -- recognized it was. Impossible to do -- generate enough revenue picture of a department everything to strike and. The state legislature finally appropriates money of these state general fund part of that sort of started the way back. But again it was out of the a loving and really gratitude I think of people who truly appreciate that park. That all of a sudden companies and the nonprofits work coming to you I remember one time -- at a press release I think it was. Mercedes-Benz. Nash an international was gonna plant trees and I thought oh my gosh they've discovered this wonderful -- and and it's going to be all right. I want everyone to stay with this were gonna continue to talk to Bob Becker. About the revival ending it's better than that to run Amazon's of this magnificent city park. And don't hesitate to call us at 260187. Date for your thoughts on what's happening and perhaps your memories at city park. I'm Angela we'll be right back. We are talking about our beloved city park with a man who. Came on board in 2001. Bob Becker. Two. In essence say you know what we've got this jam but it can be much much better until master planned. Was created with them the whole board. Just before Katrina and then Katrina hits and as we've listened to bomb. Annihilation is the proper word but with nothing left not a building. Not a shovel. Not a -- not a grass cutter and a staff cut by what did you say about 75% 80%. Heartbreak. Look as I keep saying look what has happened. Through the efforts of men before we talk about the specifics we do have a collar and I'd love to take a blaze. Yeah. Deploy on this day migraine grade -- bit on the bridge before. And they -- mattered to migrate to that at all. But -- migrating from you envious of Andre the. And they met on the bridge at city Park. City -- that very romantic I really do but that's what we're talking about were talking about. The millions of memories that have been made. At city park. Long before this renewable and the happiness that many people have had there. But let's go back to Bob Becker in your you got the master plan which you've got -- very few employees. And oh my gosh how we ever gonna restore this. The first thing though I think I understand was FEMA coming in and just cleaning up the mess. The other. I think in the the most important thing it -- actually did. Once taught at the corps of engineers. Contractor. Get help it's clear clear the park -- clear all the debris and downed trees power lines. Chances that was down. Just there's -- in the landscape an extra they had -- it and came -- finally cleared. Cleared up into the trees and although all of. All the damage that occurred which is an athlete first step before we can even begin to do when. And and then what they had done. We turned our our attention sort of put a flag in the ground in the botanical garden one of the most beloved institution in the and we determined that we are trying to work on the -- first to try to. Get that shipped renovated. So that we can hold celebrations in the Christmas of 2000. Which we thought we generated from operating revenues for which would. Predictable world. And without a major local foundation. On our foundation. I'll be able to get some money together to restore the pavilion two sisters and. And most of the garden which as you know total dollar plan aggregation system everything and beaver and be part we got most -- -- -- -- -- can actually -- celebration for about. -- dates during 2005 and and that was one of the most inspiring. Moment -- -- crawl everybody associated with park was to be able to hold that event. Put people. Two of them go. -- -- That is in the midst. A lot of tragedies. Like that around -- logger inspired by. People car and then it comes to generate revenue. And pick up the higher -- a few more people would burst and I actually hired as a volunteer coordinator at. -- I think. You know good that you bring up something so corrected in June that year was probably the darkest years in our history so from. August to December. For those who could come back it was just so bleak it was gray and it was sad. And all of a sudden to see that park lit up. Was polite that we all needed. You know we were very -- our staff and the -- that you're able to. Work there and work and work -- work the event it really an inspiring time and people. Were crying with nick and nick Eaton. Certainly it was very. Emotional and very important. Force in part for people to see her -- we'll put them. Could could -- -- -- it inspired it going in and into the next year in and that we've been in the works and there are slowly. -- got. There. That would generate that from additional revenue that we began work -- -- -- -- -- park and at center and not a -- courts open and operating it and then you know and really started to work on fundraising and get their message out there and helped that we needed. And as -- said the eight. Are -- incredibly important. Particularly in those early years we can certainly not content without them and they helped out. With some funding and and neglect to. And we get on our feet and then and then and then actually -- portable. You know but to bring a good point and is awful as everything was it drew attention to this very magical thirteen hundred acres. Where perhaps your fundraising. Outside of the state might have been. Yeah it's certainly. Like and so many things related to Katrina. It brought focus has been that. Perhaps the -- what. Before and it in and -- you know renewed interest in. In an area where we we might have been successful in getting money before because people -- just sort of said well -- spare you know. -- don't want it is that we we decided. And early on when we get back after the hurricane the board decided. That we were going to be the master plan as the institute -- for our recovery and we weren't just to -- markets going to bring back. What was here before because frankly. In many areas the park what does I deteriorated very badly because of the lack of funding. And we get started right away that we're gonna use this to build a world class facility would not gonna rebuild what was there. We were gonna use the planet and -- as a guy and every fund raiser that we want to move him into the city into the state and federal government. And her -- for a part that was that pitched you know we we just don't go there to. That's not our goal here. The goal is to build a world class part of that -- -- was envisioned it in the end I think that. You know that certainly set the bar very very hikes and a lot of of the funders who participate with the -- really appreciate. Absolutely. We have another caller Mike from New Orleans. Yes it -- yes. But hey that's like -- and are you. I just ordered. Polls speak about the leadership both of Bob Becker follow. -- you'll probably all lovely relationship. With the four were probably close to forty years. But our local one what he took over from low rumble back to -- believed in the back restore. One out there and met some people were Norton using -- -- feel. One and later on that week but it had an equestrian event in Saudi port sale no black. Probably about that would but Adam about that are kind of other that riding right it was dark it was late. And he's out there -- pork and call hours. On -- only drugs. Then there -- -- the park is a couple of people in the port commissioners accused Milosevic or that the leadership that is in place right now but without the ago. So what's potentially pork. I don't I don't know book madame a couple of problems. But the leadership we have -- to pour a wood I'll vote for him beat mayor. It was you don't look at. All that's a wonderful statement and thank you. Thank you for on a show inventory that is one of parking cars on Bob. Well you're you're called upon to do at all so that you know that this step won't win this thing that has to -- -- You have to have vision you have to have leadership you have to have the heart and when you have someone like Bob Becker in the and you have a board. That will rally and and cheer him on in and bolster him things get done I want everyone to stay with -- we have just started our conversation. About you need to here's some of the really exciting things. -- there's still on the plan that we're going to be seeing before when he eighteen so stay with this now let's go to the newsroom and Chris Miller. We'll hopefully you have been -- the city park and you've seen just the incredible changes that have taken place that. One more spectacular than than the next before we go back to Bob Becker who were calling the visionary but the leader. Of all of those changes post-Katrina. We have a caller John from gentle. Yeah yeah and and. Bob -- yes he has -- you're responsible -- in the talk with the bat but this is outstanding. I I would not work for about three months a year ago about it every morning our gadget bat. Some updated at one sixteen -- there in order to have. -- -- Side. A lot of credit has to be given to. -- -- -- that do monitors are well Erdogan and population moved an inch. Every year we reached our waterways with. Thousands and thousands of things -- going since. To maintain the water no water quality and shut. A lot of people are -- that I'm glad you had a good luck. I I got a program with national marine -- there were a few years back I caught it tagged fish. I was fascinated by that you got that. ID number on the fact if you call. He called Granger the trail where the fish regularly call outlawed in migration. How much you know how many engines they -- so many months before. And I got again on this tax. Probably. Did you. I call -- my issue again and I mean. Thousands discovered early in the market and release. All all they want on the -- what about this again there are a lot of change and message. I'll packets and every day in the -- -- and a -- have to go towards. A place that's very interesting did did he know your face. Whenever. I got one -- And thank you John very much it's wonderful to hear. And -- again watching people do little paddle wheel thing was great and now you've got to gondola. Which is spectacular. Yeah -- -- it -- arraignment again as well and -- yes. Now we reached you know we we can do apart as you mentioned an annual summit on the big things like the -- -- courts that we built -- the gold Goldberg great law on walking passenger I think pat and there was our. You know are not are not large but they're very significant I think action you know we I negotiated morning call coming to the casino building it. They wanted to and I agree presence to the front of the park we that you -- can. -- concession air up at the front of the park -- -- voting program managed and rent bicycles and and we're we're really extremely proud of that all of the running and jogging and biking -- that we are put into the park because one of the major goals of the plan. Not for the park was to -- healthy living and make sure the park was a place where people could come an exercise and I carry on their there and fight and you know to have a have a healthy lifestyle we just installed a new exercise sodium that. In the -- -- up behind Christian Brothers there where people can go he's exercise machines that might have actually pay for private health club but they're free. In an open -- -- to the public and that. Being able to provide that sort of recreation at. Activity at no cost to people. Where it was important part of our strategy. But you know using the master plan to move. The tennis courts and the what was the thought behind that. Well that that the plane hit the big overarching strategy to me it's still about this week is we work to complete it. -- -- to reducing library in the park that was used for golf. Golfer for a long time was the main financial engine that generated operating revenue for the park in the market for golf courses by. The course of preparing a plan. You know we that golf and. Having a golf course there was no longer really as profitable as it used to be. And that was high demand for contributions and it in the park. So we have reduced. Golf now that you are having just two golf courses and weaker areas. That will that work golf courses -- on the art museum and Christian Brothers and convert them into other recreational uses and then. We want -- to. Again built first class facility -- tennis facility is greatly damaged during hurricane and we were able to get. Get open for a period of time with that help the United States Tennis Association. And another line to vote -- Clapton's facility and we wanted to re purpose the front of the park from sort of -- recreation. When -- 21 that was more. And entertainment. -- you if you will to include that -- -- that tennis court got a brand new in part that's because that's a complex over there on our company. Which has been incredibly well received really pleased with. And then. The great lawn out there -- -- parking facilities. Opened a miniature golf. Opposite the amusement park you know you've had -- financial. And that won't spent almost ten million dollars in our amusement park to modernize that -- -- in new ten. You know for those who don't want to -- to -- that they finally have approval from -- -- -- -- poster which we expect such. Stroll down by the council relation opens later in in in 24 change to the idealistic -- But take it from an apartment had been heavily dominated by cabinet. And golf. Facility can read every position those in the parched. And then -- make him available for other uses that people told us that they interest as to -- Well also said he bark. When that was huge yeah. A gigantic yeah how much would that part of our -- Specter planned from the beginning was to build it on our page. Originally were gonna -- with the FTC data -- after the -- and other priorities in. -- -- I've been together with a group of our citizens informed -- city barker and private nonprofit that. Company and -- raised money we raise money and converted in the area -- nor are like extend our -- Marconi into these first. Real -- park and. I have just spent overwhelmed with we get reaction to what we initially thought they might find out you know for 500. Dogs you know for the president are that they have well over several thousand permits that have had been initiated. We we just couldn't be more pleased with with the result that. And you know what we have another caller Jean. How do you do hygiene I don't know I don't know it's like the city. The formula and I'm gonna. I grant but parent but that the Fed cup champions and Atlantic and some people can head man in and touch. And he has mind set that this that children and that. -- he does so with that it navigated to do that. Well we you know we have they'll you know we renovated the playground and that the from the department casino building. Maybe handicapped accessible to two -- one and we built -- new. Playground over Obama on the Marconi side of the. But department and victory drugs made it handicapped accessible Welsh and we hope to build new playground next it and shelter in bathroom that we built Fredricka. And we're looking into the playground sheets what additional kinds of equipment in and -- -- -- advantage that could be available to. To people with with children have challenged its ability to so I can't make you want to promise that I can tell you which is a priority for a. I appreciate the ecology and we're gonna take another break everyone stay with this were gonna continue to talk about beautiful city park. It's just such an incredible thing to note that. Our beautiful city park under water for heaven knows how long. And out of that chaos has sprung such. On a treasure and it's just it continues. To. Amaze and surprise everyone and it wasn't without a thought I mean Bob Becker and the board of via organization. Created a master plan before Katrina thank heaven they had that because look now what we've got. And and Bob the point is it's continuing -- and didn't yesterday I hear that there there's still hope that the Children's Museum will be moved there. -- children do you think -- an interest in reading in the park back in southern and. We've always thought that that would be great cultural addiction and opted to the park. And now we've heard that yesterday we had to an amendment to the master plan and we reaffirmed our support them moving image. You know we're we're really excited about that. You know what they can add culturally to the park along with our great art art museum and and the culture gardens and the botanical garden. I was really think that. You know if -- -- say it very well rounded. I expected it to the -- usage in the park has the obligations legislatively to. Be not only placed a recreation but to be played sports education cultural. Our facilities and for the development of beauty which we take very very. -- seriously. People all our people need beauty -- shell. Wheatley a number of things that we're getting ready to do we helped to build a -- championship. Golf course and we hope to build. A small family oriented water park. In the park working. Major renovation botanical garden entrance closure to. Where miniature coffee hasn't had the -- new exhibit there are you roller coaster coming. We're actually drilled. That was going to be kind of building and maintenance complex and it's an important to a lot of spent people -- Our army and apartment in Arkansas ball quite complex saw when we -- conflict we can move them out of their opener post -- ballclub. -- -- -- -- -- -- just a lot of things that we. I want to do you finished the plan and there's so much mortgages that are that he can be arm to arm plan and I said that. The market interest infrastructure that needs to be prepared to block open are the greens up to boating activities by cleaning damage. We planted over 5000 trees in the -- we wanted to plant many more many more trees as part of our program we forced the pocket pollution and so many doing. During hurricane so. You know they're just. A lot to do in a lot that that keeps us motivated every day. Guide from -- you had a question for -- Hey I don't know where it. You know as a city Utah what the golf course summit of -- things over the ideal place at the north course up periodically and a really enjoy it. -- -- -- it back in the open running as quickly -- that after the storm. Is there a timetable on the new com golf course it -- Well that the course is the plan for complete that process for the news -- championship course. And all of the funding is in place. We are waiting for the states to release the final a 3.2 million dollar that was included in the states capital we've built. And it's -- that they did. Then the project can be let out to be armed but I don't I don't have time what you did. But one mistake what -- -- that the state has you know funded. Or personal projects it has been forced they're going through their list of priorities they've already released six point six million hostage. Actually they released the final three point treaty because it didn't project and start our I would think the earliest we would be able open in new course. Would be probably whispering the 2016. And I think it's still feasible to to do that hopefully. The state will make those funds and it. Bob when you say championship courses that does that mean that there's a certain criteria. While it's going to be longer. That there were parked. Going to have been more tee boxes are all that people different. Skill levels and inability package can play to play the course it generally has a higher degree of maintenance then. And our north course which is not a moderately. Priced course such -- it can delegates are a higher level of attention so when we're all done we're going to have a great moderately priced golf course. Now it's very playable for the people won't come ranges Morgan have a really fine golf course should go to one bad experience. They'll be able to get in city park. Don thank you for the call and take John from mid city. It's like just comment on current -- civic park in the -- continuum. Are from the leadership of both the action before. I came on. They're people find him a guy -- drama gone in George. And I -- you know and that just. Have proven into the future and on the focus here but it's not a surprise a lot. No I agree with -- there's there's always been a deep. -- multiple generational. Affection for that car and yet. Almost sadly again and you had the master plan. It took Katrina I think to energize everyone and I'm talking about not people who made the plant. But for all of -- to say oh my gosh can be so much more. And you don't know what happened. And it's one of the great ironies in this car. That meant to. Eras of greatest redevelopment of the park. Occurred during two of the greatest disasters in history of our country the first with the Great Depression. And the fact of the park received substantial resources during the Great Depression as part of the WPA and the recovery. To build the infrastructure that the park has reached -- now and then Katrina. For which we've been able to. I'm used that as and as a lever and to gain additional funding. Not for the package that the tremendous -- action it's taken -- to tremendous disaster mr. really spur. And. And caught additional resources to flow into the park. Well you're absolutely right and Bob Becker and I hope you feel that the community is behind you because. It's a lot of excitement and what that gentleman just said there's that we had been lucky to have the people -- loved the park and helped lead and or in a new era. Of forward thinking and it's just exciting to -- exciting thing to watch happen. And I hope everybody just enjoys it just goes out drives around -- walks around and looks around and says oh my gosh. Right here in the middle of the city I thank you Bob Becker very much for all you do it for spending an hour with us. Doing -- for having me on an -- expansion which. Everybody can be quite factual in in the production problems. Well I want everyone to stay with this and we're gonna come back and have bar code word for the 1000 dollar cash contest.