land use

Lafitte Greenway is bringing ‘good to the community,’ advocates say

The Lafitte Greenway, which is used by biker, walkers, jogger, and boarders at all hours of the day, stretches 2.6 miles from Armstrong Park to City Park. What used to be a transportation route for commercial use is now a public walkway (Photo by Nick Ducote).
The Lafitte Greenway, which is used by biker, walkers, jogger, and boarders at all hours of the day, stretches 2.6 miles from Armstrong Park to City Park. What used to be a transportation route for commercial use is now a public walkway (Photo by Nick Ducote).

By Nicholas Ducote
Loyola Student News Service

What used to be an industrial rail corridor with rows of vacant warehouses is now a greenspace and paved trail in Orleans Parish. The Lafitte Greenway goes through six neighborhoods, connecting Bayou St. John in Mid-City to Armstrong Park by the French Quarter.

The 2.6-mile bicycle and pedestrian walkway makes getting around both parts of the city easier. There also is a park with street lights, new trees, and walkways that recycle water.

The Lafitte Greenway also connects more than just two parts of the city; it connects the people in those specific neighborhoods.

“I couldn’t tell that there ever was a railway there, but getting to know the history behind the Greenway, it’s cool to see where it came from and where it is today,” Trayshawn Webb of Friends of Lafitte Greenway said. “I think the Greenway brings a lot of good to the community. They have yoga, Zumba, and community workouts.

“We connect people to opportunities to be healthy towards nature, and each other. All of those things are needed for healthy people, and healthy community development. Plus, its helps me to get to work on a daily basis,” said Webb.

The trail and park is credited to Friends of Lafitte Greenway. The volunteer-based group started in 2006 with the goal of a long-term neighborhood revitalization.

“The Greenway had the largest and most historic community gardens in Orleans Parish,” said  program coordinator for Friends of Lafitte Greenway, Nellie Catzen.

“We’re restoring what’s already been there. This is for people to access healthy food, and to see their neighbors. The Greenway Master Plan has three acres of community gardens, where the Greenway is right now, we don’t have any, so we are working on this plan with one hundred community members to get involved and help make healthy food easily accessible to everyone, especially economic opportunities to Lafitte Greenway residents,” said Catzen.

The idea of the Greenway has always been that it’s more than just a space for recreation; it’s more than just a park; this is meant for people to stimulate and invest in the surrounding neighborhoods, she said. The path runs through Broad Street which has also gone through several cosmetic changes. There’s the Broad Theater, Whole Foods and other development.

The closed Mid-City Motor Vehicle Inspection Station is now a piece of street art. Nellie Catzen, left, the program coordinator for Friends of Lafitte Greenway, shows off the changes the walkway has brought to the area (Photo by Nick Ducote).
The closed Mid-City Motor Vehicle Inspection Station is now a piece of street art. Nellie Catzen, left, the program coordinator for Friends of Lafitte Greenway, shows off the changes the walkway has brought to the area (Photo by Nick Ducote).

When walking along the Greenway there are many “for rent” signs and noises of construction and work. The warehouses and blighted areas along the trail are slowly getting addressed. Executive director for Friends of Lafitte Greenway Sophie Harris is seeing this on a daily basis, and knows that their work is actually doing something for the Orleans Parish community.

“There is a track record about urban trails, helping further urban development. We’re seeing that happen on the Greenway with several of the most recent developments come up over the past few years. That is all happening around the Greenway. I do not find that to be a coincidence, for example Mid-City Market, by Carrolton, The Refresh Project, on Broad Street, and houses along Lafitte Street are all possible through the Lafitte Greenway,” said Harris.

Next up for Friends of Lafitte Greenway is Greenway Explorers Program, which will encourage kids and teens to use nature and the Greenway as a classroom and a playground. The goal is to promote environmental stewardship, and healthy and active lifestyles, said Harris.

For more information about the Lafitte Greenway, walking tours and other activities and its history, visit lafittegreenway.org.

The Loyola Student News Service features reporters from advanced-level journalism classes at Loyola University New Orleans, directed by faculty advisers.

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