Group wants to revamp Armstrong Park - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Group wants to revamp Armstrong Park

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

A group of residents wants to see new development in Armstrong Park. They've got big ideas for the area which is currently without a public restroom and any type of food vendor.

Now, they've got the weight of a city council person behind them.

On a typical weekday, Armstrong Park is pretty quiet. Emanuel Lain wants to change that.

"This park is a fabulous park, it just needs some tender loving care," said Lain, who heads up the non-profit People United for Armstrong Park.

Tuesday night, the group gathered to brainstorm ways the park could be enhanced. One of the biggest issues the group has revolves around the buildings on the property that have sat vacant for years.

"I think the citizens of New Orleans could use an asset like that to be open on a regular basis and to provide some amenities to this park," said Lain, pointing to three structures that make up the National Jazz Park inside Armstrong.

The three buildings are owned by the city but leased by the National Park Service. After Hurricane Katrina, the park service spent hundreds of thousands of dollars re-doing the inside of Perseverance Hall, which is used to house special events. But the other buildings, still sit empty.

A spokesperson for the park service says it all has to do with a lack of funding.

"I think it's worth getting everybody back at the table to have a conversation about what we can do to get them back into commerce," New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams said.

Williams says he's been in talks with People United for Armstrong Park because he likes the ideas they're proposing. One of them includes re-doing an old firehouse. It's owned by the city, and currently used as an office space and storage facility for parks and parkways, but Emanuel Lain has other ideas.

"My thought is to just open it up to a nice cafe, where you can get a cup of coffee, where you can read your paper," said Lain.

A spokesperson for the city says it hasn't been presented with any proposals yet for the firehouse. Jason Williams is working to help facilitate that.

"I think we're close to getting the friends of Armstrong Park together with the administration to see what we can do to at least get that firehouse open," Williams said.

Williams believes the park is an under-utilized asset for the city - one which he and Emanuel Lain think could be easily transformed.

The lease that the National Park Service has with the city for the three buildings extends to 2052. A spokesperson for the park service says they would be open to securing a partnership with someone with compatible uses for the sites.

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