NORD says youths have more opportunities this summer - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NORD says youths have more opportunities this summer

The new Sanchez Center will be built at N. Claiborne and Caffin Avenues in 9th Ward. The new Sanchez Center will be built at N. Claiborne and Caffin Avenues in 9th Ward.

New Orleans, La. — City Hall said Tuesday that the city's young people have more recreational opportunities this summer than in recent years. And the head of NORD said four additional community centers, including one for the Lower Ninth Ward, are in the pipeline.

But people in some communities said they have had to wait too long for the restoration of recreational facilities.

The Landrieu administration said it has completed 56 NORD projects to date, at a cost of $54.7 million, to give the city's children safe places for recreation.

"Just a few short years ago NORD only had seven pools," said Victor Richard, III., CEO of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.

Now there are 13 pools and the number of summer camps has nearly tripled in recent years. "A couple of years ago we only had 13 camps, we've got 32 camps now," Richard said.

There is no disputing that, in many parts of the city newer, more modern NORD facilities exist in the years since Hurricane Katrina.

"It's not about the number, it's about the quality and that's what we're focused on," continued Richard.

But people in some communities said they are still waiting for progress in their area.

"It is of utmost importance that we have activities for our youth to participate in. To be involved in that will not only keep them out of crime's way, as we keep saying, but also will instill in them good values," said Rev. Eleanor Cushenberry, who pastors a Methodist church on Caffin Avenue.

The city has committed to rebuilding the Sanchez Center, complete with a pool. But Cushenberry and others believe more should have been down by now.

"We can't wait until the Pete Sanchez Center is back up and running for our youths, as well as for our seniors," she said.

Miles away in New Orleans East, the NORD park in the Village de L'est subdivision remains gated off, but city signs promise restoration and residents are counting on it.

"It's been very slow, and I have to say it's been very frustrating at moments. But we also realize that there's processes… but I'm so glad that those processes have come to a point where we can see some activity on the improvement of the land," said Cindy Nguyen, a community activist who runs the VIET Center.  It sits on acres of land where a former Catholic church used to sit. That site is adjacent to the NORD park.

The VIET Center currently runs a NORD summer program, but Nguyen said the NORD park, with its bright security lighting, is still needed for myriad athletic activities.

"This land as you can see doesn't accommodate large, organized sports like football, like soccer, like basketball," she said.

Richards said, while more facilities are coming, he also envisions a day when the city's recreation department has national accreditation. "There's no reason for our city not to have a national accredited organization," said Richard.

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