The $1.8 million park project anchoring St. Roch Avenue should wrap before summer, according to city officials who announced the plans from outside the park gates this afternoon. Construction on the park's pool, however, will wait as the city and park planners gather more funding — the city already has $400,000 from FEMA dedicated to restoring the existing pool. A new indoor pool is unlikely and would cost millions, officials said.
Vincent Smith, the city's director of capital projects, said the park should open in time for NORD's 2013 summer programming. "Right now we've just got the $400,000," he said. "It's going to be a process to raise additional funding." NORD director Vic Richard added, "If we get the park up June 1, the community will be proud of it."
The park (third oldest in the city) and Harold Sampson playground sits between the St. Roch Community Church and the St. Roch Cemetery. The park is currently bare and stripped of grass and amenities. Updates will include a baseball field and resurfaced basketball court, with repairs to the fences and gates, restroom facilities and concession stand. District C city councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said that the neighborhood "has not seen a lot of investment historically," but thanked the St. Roch Neighborhood Improvement Association and neighbors for driving interest in its revitalization. The park project will anchor the neutral ground — on its other end, the St. Roch Market, which is scheduled to open in March. The market links the park via a neutral ground park space with benches and "art walk" — which is roughly completed.