As city leaders pass the reins to those charged with maintaining it, what will be the future of the Lafitte Greenway?
By Claire Byun
When New Orleans voters choose a new mayor and City Council in November, the Lafitte Greenway will mark its second anniversary. The 2.6-mile linear park has drawn praise for dramatically increasing the open space avail-able to the public and spurring economic growth in the surrounding neighborhoods. At the opening of the Lafitte Greenway in November 2015, Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the city, "This is yours. You have to take care of it. You have to protect it, and you have to make sure it's here for future generations."
Almost two years in, the Greenway still inspires the optimism of that moment, but it also reflects the fears of a citywide increase in crime, development interests that displace residents of historically low-income areas and the threat of neglect that in years past has turned some public parks into undertended no man's lands.
The $9.1 million Greenway opened after several decades of dreaming, starting in the 1970s with an idea by civil rights activist Rudy Lombard and architect Clifton James. Following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures in 2005, Friends of the Lafitte Corridor began a fundraising effort in 2006. It took nearly 10 years to complete the trail that stretches between Armstrong Park and New Orleans City Park and runs through neighborhoods spanning the French Quarter, Treme and Mid-City. Thousands of people now use the greenway regularly — to go to and from work, for recreation and for leisure.
"Our goals have always been multifaceted," said Sophie Harris, executive director of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, "but one of the biggest goals has been to build a space where people could come out and meet their neighbors."
Source: The Gambit
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