Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Better build some more luxury housing

We've got all sorts of neat stuff we need to pay for.
With the exception of City Park, which falls under the auspices of the state of Louisiana, New Orleans foots the bill for these green spaces out of its general fund (though the city uses $1 million in federal Community Development Block Funds for recreation expenses.) Crescent Park and the greenway alone will add roughly $1 million more to a maintenance budget that tops $7 million. Parks and Parkways, which keeps up road medians, some parks and other public spaces, now swallows up $3.3 million per year. The New Orleans Recreation Department Commission is up to $3.1 million, and operating and maintenance for Crescent Park is $659,000. The greenway is still under construction, but the city estimates it will add $300,000 to the yearly maintenance tab. There have been discussions about putting a parks millage on the ballot, but nothing official has yet been announced.
As we've seen time and again, the city's official policy response to rising infrastructure costs continues to be a campaign to attract wealthier residents who can pay higher rents and property taxes. In order to keep them, though, we may have to build even more parks.
Recently, the Downtown Development District (DDD), the fastest growing census tract in town, created an advisory board to find a way to bring more parks to downtown New Orleans. Developers creating luxury and warehouse apartments in the district told the board that the professionals they rent to rank greenspace near the top of their required amenities. Sarah Olivier from the Trust for Public Land’s New Orleans office, who served on the advisory board, says that the DDD’s research showed that the district’s new residents like urban areas but they are also looking for ways to escape. “They want parks,” Olivier says.  
It's either a virtuous or a vicious circle depending on whether you're a wealthy newcomer (or "snowbird" if you like) who can afford to play the parks and condos game or if you're among the rest of us who'll be moved out of the way in order to make room for it to proceed.

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