Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Park Proposals Possible

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2007 at 12:41 AM

After two months of speculation and public discussion on three proposed amendments to the City Park master plan, the park’s board met this evening and made their decision: the television studio is out, a children’s museum is okay with certain restrictions and there’s no need to decide yet who will manage the golf courses.

The meeting took place in the park’s Pavilion of the Two Sisters and was presided over by Paul Masinter, board president. City Park CEO Bob Becker presented the board with his staff’s evaluation regarding the three proposals, outlining each individually and then giving a final staff recommendation. Becker then presented a resolution to the board requesting their approval of the staff recommendations. The board passed the resolution unanimously.

Becker and his staff were impressed with LPB/WLAE’s proposed studio, noting that it was a “great effort,” but ultimately they decided that the building was much closer to being a broadcast/office facility than a cultural facility. The park’s master plan calls for three possible cultural facilities within a 50-acre range around the park’s Roosevelt Mall area. While the park staff liked the idea of a music museum within the studio, it would only occupy 20 percent of the site’s space with 80 percent devoted primarily to television programming, and therefore didn’t satisfy the cultural facility requirement.

In regards to the Louisiana Children’s Museum’s idea to move from the downtown location to the park, Becker said that the museum obviously met the criteria as a cultural facility. He added that there are more than 70 children’s museums located in public parks nationwide, the idea of a museum was consistent with the park’s mission and that it would promote utilization of other park spaces.

Becker stopped short of fully endorsing the children’s museum submission in its current form. He said the present proposal, which involves 35 acres of parkland, should be reduced to about 12 acres. Additionally, the staff’s endorsement for the children’s museum requires that the Louisiana Children’s Museum make substantial progress within two years in the areas of planning, design and fundraising for the future museum. If the progress doesn’t occur, City Park can then consider other proposals for the site.

Becker explained that the Bayou District Foundation’s (BDF) proposal to manage the park’s golf courses made the most extensive changes to the park’s master plan in terms of geography and park management. In consideration of this and because the none of the golf courses are yet in operation, the park’s staff didn’t feel it was necessary to make a decision at this time. Becker said there a number of options that could be explored before the park reopens the North Golf Course in late spring of 2008.

Birders and friends of Couturie Forest will be ecstatic to hear that the staff was against any reduction in the size of the forest — the only modification to be considered would be to possibly allow the area currently dedicated to the softball complex and police horse stables be used for a golf complex.

By passing the resolution endorsing the staff’s recommendations, this also allows Beck and Masinter to begin negotiations with BDF and the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Before approving the measure, one board member reminded the board and others in attendance that the decision-making process was far from over for these two proposals.

“This is just a green light on two of the proposals to go from the batter’s box to first base.”

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