The area of City Park’s new championship golf course (New Orleans City Park).
The board of commissioners overseeing New Orleans City Park is considering building a fence or barrier around a new golf course amid concerns over recent protests and vandalism there, members announced in May.
The park’s new Championship Level Golf Course, which is slated for completion in February, has a 250-acre footprint bordered by Filmore Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Marconi Drive, and Wisner Boulevard.
The nearly $24.5 million, 18-hole course incorporates portions of the park’s former East and West golf courses, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and features, among other assets, historic oak trees and existing lagoons. It will also have a new clubhouse, park officials say.
The golf course already has a barrier on its south side. Commissioners said in May they are considering adding fencing or bioswales to the other borders in attempts to prevent the trespassing and vandalism that’s been going on at the construction site for more than a year now.
Last March, two men on separate occasions climbed oak trees within the golf course’s construction site and protested the building of the new course.
After one of the protestors, Boover, fell from the tree, he was booked on criminal trespassing charges. The park had hired safety and security personnel to monitor the protestor, City Park president Bob Becker told NOLA.com at the time
, a service that cost up to $1,000 a day.
Since last year, park officials have reported other instances of trespassing and vandalism — including people riding their motorbikes through the new golf course, according to City Park Commissioner Edmund Schrenk.
“I think we need to be confidant that whatever we do will deter some vandalism,” Schrenk said.
Becker added that by having a golf course, the park runs the “inherent risk” of attracting vandals.“We are trying to find the least intrusive way to try and prevent sort of casual person who does that,” Becker said. “It’s an inherent risk when you have a golf course, just like when you have a public building, there’s an inherent risk of graffiti.”
The protestors weren’t the only ones to condemn the new golf course. Also last year, a nonprofit group called the City Park for Everyone Coalition formed to fight the completion of the new complex, and even brought a federal suit against New Orleans City Park and FEMA in an attempt to stop the construction.
As they announced the litigation, coalition members argued that park officials should have allowed nature to prevail, as prior to Hurricane Katrina, much of the land had become overgrown.
They also said the golf course is “likely to be an economic failure,” and is “not wanted by the majority of the people of New Orleans.”
City Park officials have disagreed, however, saying that the new golf course will generate important revenue for the public park.
At its peak, golf in the past has contributed around 40 percent of the entire operating budget of the park, officials said. The first golf course in City Park opened in 1901, and before Katrina hit in 2005, the park hosted four courses and a driving range.
Since then, the park has reduced golf acreage from over 500 to around 340 acres, and from four courses to two, but still looks to the new course as a potential money-making asset, officials said. They’ve pointed out that only 15 percent of its operating budget is received through the state, and none comes from the city.
Designed by renowned golf course architect Rees Jones, the new course has been designed to accommodate players of all skill levels.
“Golf has historically been a significant contributor to the operations of the park,” officials stated on the park’s website.