Three of the closed and decrepit municipal swimming pools cited by Gambit in a July 13, 2010 cover story will reopen by summer, according to the New Orleans Recreational Development Commission (NORDC), the new nonprofit, public-private board in charge of the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD).
At a Feb. 8 meeting, the commission laid out its blueprint for pool openings over the next few months, which will include the pools at A.L. Davis Playground in Central City and the Sam Bonart Playground in the Lower 9th Ward. The indoor pool at Joe Brown Park in eastern New Orleans should be open by June, the board says. Among other pools to be opened this year: Behrman, Lemann, Lyons, St. Bernard, Sampson, Stallings-Gentilly, Taylor and Whitney Young.
The goal, as presented at the Feb. 8 meeting, is for NORD to open at least 12 pools this year and five more in 2012. The community pool facility in Gert Town, its distinctive UFO shape long in shambles, will be razed using FEMA dollars and a new swimming facility is scheduled to replace it in 2013.
Getting NORD on its feet this summer will be one of the first big tests of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration and the new commission. When Landrieu (a member of the 13-person NORDC board) presented his inaugural city budget in October 2010, he doubled the amount of NORD funding to $10 million annually. At the time, the announcement drew a standing ovation from a bipartisan crowd gathered at Gallier Hall. That month, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that would turn NORD into a public-private partnership, a move recommended by a citizens' advisory panel consisting of attorney Bobby Garon, businessman/engineer Roy Glapion and Entergy executive vice president and chief administrative officer Rod West, and backed heavily by City Council President Arnie Fielkow.
At the NORDC's first formal meeting in January, Glapion was appointed chairman of the board. Former NORD director Vic Richard III, who was hired last summer by Landrieu to serve as interim director, will continue until NORDC hires a permanent director. The board's next meeting is March 15 in the City Council Chamber of City Hall and is open to the public. — Kevin Allman