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Mar 262015
 

An aerial view of the construction of championship-level golf course being built in New Orleans City Park (Darin Acosta).

The protest against a new, championship-level golf course in City Park has taken a new turn, bringing the issue into federal court.

The City Park for Everyone Coalition is bringing federal suit against New Orleans City Park and FEMA in an attempt to stop the construction of a $13 million golf course slated to occupy land between Wisner Boulevard and Marconi Drive and Harrison and Filmore Avenues.

The course, designed by architect Rees Jones, ranges from 5,100 – 7,250 yards. Filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the lawsuit is the latest development following a series of protests and rallies decrying the new development. It also comes days after a man protesting the course’s construction fell out of the tree he had been staying in and was taken away by ambulance, according to reports.

Coalition members contend that instead of building the course, park officials should allow nature to prevail. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, much of the land was occupied by two golf courses, but it has since become overgrown.

“While the Coalition has tried numerous ways to convince the leadership of City Park to halt construction of a golf course development north of Harrison Avenue, the park has charged full steam ahead with construction. Of immediate concern is the bulldozing of several acres of previously undeveloped wetlands in the Old Couturie Forest,” the Coalition said in a press release prior to filing suit. “City Park does not have the federally required permit for this development. The Coalition is asking the court to order an injunction that ceases construction and requires City Park to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Louisiana Public Trust Doctrine.”

Coalition members added that they believe the golf course is “likely to be an economic failure,” and is “not wanted by the majority of the people of New Orleans.”

“This Coalition has nothing against golf, we just see that there are plenty of other places to tee off. Since the TPC Westbank course and Audubon course are both losing money, while interest in golf is declining nationally, we don’t see any reason to believe that this planned golf course will make the sort of revenue that City Park says it needs,” the press release reads.  “We are concerned that the citizens of New Orleans will end up on the hook for a bailout of City Park.”

City Park CEO Bob Becker had previously told protestors that the golf course would provide necessary funds for the park. He also refuted claims that the planned golf course has not properly been vetted for public comments, saying officials met “at least” five times to discuss the new course.

“We feel it was very open.  We’ve had five public meetings through the course of these years, and most of them focused on golf,” Becker said during a board meeting held in February.

The park’s footprint for golf has been reduced from four courses to two under Becker’s tenure, which began in 2001. The South Course was closed in the summer of 2005 and eventually became part of the Big Lake public use walking trail.

  4 Responses to “Coalition files lawsuit to stop new golf course in City Park”

  1. On City Park’s permit filings it actually says there were 4 public comment periods for this golf course. However, the first was February 2005, when a completely different plan was in play and before Hurricane Katrina. Then in 2007 & 2009 there were public comment periods on a different golf plan that was going to cost $46 million. There was ONE public comment period meeting in 2011 that dealt specifically with this golf course that’s under construction.
    – Christopher Lane, Vice President, City Park for Everyone Coalition.

  2. That’s the very point Mr. Becker, “We’ve had five public meetings through the course of these years, and most of them focused on golf…”. Perhaps, it is not only golf that needed to be discussed. It may have been beneficial to consider the multiple benefits to the area and its people a natural ecosystem provides. To often, we negate the intrinsic values of a landscape because of the “benefits” the instrumental values seemingly present. Building a golf course may bring money in but consider this: The value in the peoples opinions, what they desire and what they will make use of. If money is what concerns you then be assured, there is money in recreational activities that could take place in a natural and healthy environment. It may be of value, at the very least, to discuss options such as: hiking trails in which the public could hire a park ranger that knows the land and it’s varying ecological systems; to teach individuals as they walk through the delightful, winsome landscape that has been able to return this past decade. The opportunity to learn about the ecosystems history and changing landscape in a rare natural immersion rather than a pedagogic classroom. An “animal hide and seek” in which children can interact with the natural surrounding and learn about the vast amount of life within our city’s boundaries.These could all be ways to create revenue for City Park. In an astonishing contrast, the expenditures for golf course upkeep. As well as mitigating the environmental damages that golf course fertilizers, pesticide and herbicides necessitate. Just another benefit to a natural landscape: it pretty much takes care of it self. Money in, little money out.
    If there is one thing that we New Orleanians gained from Katrina it was the chance to start a new. Yes, there may have been a golf course in this area prior to Katrina but does that, simply, mean one must be reactionary? Let us take the opportunity that was presented to us to move forward.
    Not to mention, how much more sustainable (in the true sense of the word) allowing the park to return to a natural state is for the long term future of the area.
    At the very least, the project should never have been allowed to proceed purely on the basis that the varying options were not considered (only a few of which were presented above); as they apparently “most focused on golf”.

  3. WTF CITY PARK?!?!?!?!? I’m 14 and I fish in city park almost every day as I live very near to the park. I can’t help but point out that they already have a fucking golf course! Also their building it where I fish and many other people love to walk because it’s so tranquil. Plus their building right up to the nature trail! Which is going to ruin the tranquility of the park because of golf carts and stray golf balls. And fucking city park is supporting them!!!!! God damn this makes me mad!!! I’m not letting the park be ruined without a fight!!!! Whose With Me? If you want to do something, here’s what you do: they have put flags on trees marking them either to save or to take down, so if you see one of those fucking flags… Take it down! And if your reading this and you support the building of the golf course….. Fuck you

  4. Sums up the Johnny-Come-Lately transplants who are driving this protest movement: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

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