City Park CEO issues statement regarding trespassers on park construction site

Published: Mar. 29, 2015 at 1:54 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2015 at 1:55 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans City Park CEO Bob Becker issued a statement Saturday night regarding individuals trespassing in the construction zone of the park's new golf course. In the statement, Becker talks about a recent incident where the individuals were in possession of incendiary devices while trespassing on the property to gain access to a tree.

Individuals have recently started protesting against construction of a new public golf course at City Park by climbing and staying in the tree which sits on the site of the new course. The individuals are protesting against the removal of trees for the course to be built.

The following is the statement:

“Earlier today, City Park officials were notified of the latest act of vandalism and trespassing occurring near the construction site of the new golf course. This individual apparently vandalized the security fence around the site with three other individuals that were wearing masks. One individual allegedly possessed at least two incendiary devices while establishing a position in a tree. The discovery of these incendiary devices has caused us and local law enforcement great concern for the safety of our visitors and the park itself.

This criminal act comes after numerous incidents of individuals illegally destroying property and harming park grounds during the last two weeks.

It is time for these criminal activities to end. We call on the City Park for Everyone Coalition to join us in demanding an end to these illegal acts of vandalism. Individuals destroying park property and trespassing on an active construction site are endangering themselves and others using the park.

City Park has taken great effort to allow these individuals to express their opinions, including conducting a face-to-face meeting with leaders of the City Park for Everyone Coalition, Monday, March 23. At that meeting, we asked this group to assist us in calling for an end to vandalism. They refused to help us at that time. We expect them to help now.

In the process of resolving a similar situation earlier this week, City Park hired safety and security personnel to monitor the individual involved. City Park and the New Orleans Fire Department provided medical care when he required it after falling out of the tree he occupied. These services cost City Park $1,000 per day. We will hold each person responsible for any illegal activity and pursue the personal repayment of all costs caused by them. We will work with law enforcement to prosecute all individuals who engage in criminal activity.

City Park appreciates the continued assistance of the New Orleans Police Department and Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Department and New Orleans Fire Department.

Golf activity at City Park has been discussed, debated and amended for nearly a decade. The first public hearing on the golf courses was held in 2005 with numerous public hearings thereafter. It has been reviewed by various offices of state government as well as FEMA. It has undergone layers of environmental review and approval and received all permits from FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many meetings were held with neighborhood associations and business organizations throughout the process. In addition, hundreds of people attended public meetings prior to amendments to the Master Plan. City and state officials were kept abreast of progress as well, with extensive environmental and archeological reviews completed according to federal guidelines.”

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