Hike & Bike

So how many people came out for our hike? Can we call it 200? The Times-Picayune did. So if you’re keeping score, the annual breakdown looks like this:

2005: 3
2006: 18
2007: 17
2008: 60
2009: 200

2009Walk-Hikers6

Photo by Charlie London

See also the video on WWL.

Our budget for publicity? More or less exactly zero. Word spread mainly through online means. It was listed on Meetup.com, for example.

The weather was beautiful, and that surely helped. But obviously this is an idea whose time has come, and the people of New Orleans are hungry for it. The voluminous turnout demonstrates that amply.

I was delighted and more than a little overwhelmed. It’s strange how you can be with such a large group and still feel mostly alone with your thoughts. That’s because I was usually out in front, trying to guide us the right way. After all, the path isn’t there yet — you have to use your imagination.

I enjoyed myself and still managed to take a few pictures, but such a large crowd did generate logistical challenges. I was worried we wouldn’t have adequate transportation back to the point of departure. We’d been planning on a modest increase in number, maybe 75 hikers. Our sponsor, Massey’s Profeesional Outfitters, scrambled to get extra food for lunch, but they had only chartered one bus.

Last year I said we might need to register people in advance, but we didn’t. Perhaps we should have. We will have to consider some major modifications to the game plan next year. If we break ground on this project at this time next year (could happen!) we might have 400 people or more.

It all worked out in the end, though, and I was pleased with the event as a whole. We had a number of speakers address the group at key points along the hike, which I think added a much-needed dimension of educational richness. A megaphone would have been handy.

I think this will go down in my books as one of the coolest days of my year, if not my life, except for one little blemish toward the end:

My bike got stolen. It was locked to the fence in front of Armstrong Park. Right there on Rampart Street. In the middle of the day. Someone must have had a pair of boltcutters and some big balls.

Hike the Lafitte Corridor

What are you doing for National Trails Day? If you’re in New Orleans, please join us for the 5th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor.

Saturday June 6
10:00 AM: Meet at main entrance to Armstrong Park (Rampart St.)
Noonish: Lunch at Massey’s (509 N Carrollton)
1:00 PM: Finish at Canal Blvd. Shuttle back to Armstrong Park

It’s hard to believe this is the fifth such event. The first one only had three hikers and no fanfare. The second hike attracted sixteen participants and led to the formation of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.

Last year we had sixty people turn out. Amazing.

Hikers

About last year: We advertised that event as absolutely the last chance to hike the corridor in its undeveloped state. Oops. Not quite. Here it is one year later, and there’s no tangible work done. There has actually been plenty of progress, but behind the scenes. Frankly we are now where we probably should have been a year ago. Everything has been slower than it should be, and the process got jammed up for a while. The promise I made last year — that by this time “there’s at least gonna be some pavement in place, for at least a portion” of the greenway — has turned out to be incorrect. Granted, that was a bit of a bluff, a little bravado on my part. At the time it still seemed possible that the whole greenway proposal would simply fall apart. I felt it necessary to raise the stakes a little. I offer my humble apology to anyone who trusted my word. I take that seriously, and it pains me to have been wrong.

And yet it’s hard for me to feel discouraged, because I was wrong in another way. I thought if my bold prediction failed to materialize it would be because the whole greenway project had been derailed (no pun) and that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, we seem to be on track (again no pun) at last.

Eventually this three-mile stretch of old railroad corridor will be a beautiful greenway with bicycle and pedestrian paths, park-like in places, tying together disparate neighborhoods and providing a great amenity to everyone in New Orleans. That grand scheme will take a while. But the City is (finally) taking the first big step in retaining the services of Design Workshop to design and plan the greenway, as well as a revitalization program for the blocks that surround it.

I’ve just gotten word that Rebecca Leonard and Kurt Culbertson from Design Workshop will be joining us for the hike, so this is a fantastic opportunity for the community to meet the planners and (perhaps more to the point) for the planners to see first-hand just how many people care so passionately about this project.

The reason I’m so passionate about this is that I have to be. Whatever momentum we’ve got is only because citizens — regular people like you and me — have gotten involved and pushed it forward. Lots of people have been pushing hard on all kinds of different fronts, and in many cases we’re only beginning to see the first signs of progress now. That citizen involvement is essential to the positive transformation of New Orleans, and this hike is a great way to demonstrate and celebrate that fact. It’s also a good way to learn more about the greenway project as well as the history and future of the city itself.

Plus, it’s fun. And there’s lunch.

Once again Massey’s Professional Outfitters is stepping up to sponsor the hike. They’re a business right on the corridor, and their support for this event has been fantastic. They’ll be providing lunch as well as transportation back to the point of origin.

It’s a three mile hike, and the weather is sure to be hot, and parts of the path are overgrown and weedy — though not so overgrown and weedy as last year, thanks to the efforts of Sheriff Marlon Gusman. So dress accordingly, and bring some sunscreen. You might want to bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated. This is a hike, not a garden walk. Flip-flops are not appropriate footwear!

Did I mention Massey’s is supplying lunch?

Hike the Lafitte Corridor Flyer

Please download the flyer and share with all your friends and neighbors. This is a grassroots effort and we need word-of-mouth.

Mark your calendar, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Dear Goody Clancy

Here’s a letter which I hope to present directly to representatives of Goody Clancy at tonight’s District 4 meeting (6PM @ Jesuit).

Dear Goody Clancy,

Friends of Lafitte Corridor has been reviewing the Master Plan draft. It is quite impressive. However, there are several points that concern us. We believe that the revitalization of the Lafitte Corridor, with a central greenway, offers a model for nurturing the values of sustainability and community that the Master Plan draft espouses. Therefore I am sending this follow-up to my recent e-mail.

  1. Chapter 13 mentions the Mississippi River Greenway Initiative, but we could find no mention of the greenway project planned for the Lafitte Corridor.
  2. The greenway shows up on the proposed bike route map, but it is not the correct length. (It should extend from Basin Street all the way to Canal Blvd. instead of terminating at City Park Ave.)
  3. Note the two-part structure of the project as the Office of Recovery Development has conceived it and City Planning Commission staff has endorsed: development of a Lafitte Corridor Revitalization Plan and design of the greenway/trail itself. These two prongs are distinct and substantial.
  4. In recognition of the unique opportunities the greenway represents, we recommend a special land use designation for trail-oriented development along the entire length of the Lafitte Corridor.
  5. The integrative nature of the project as “green infrastructure” should be emphasized — integrating active transportation, public health and recreation, economic revitalization, cultural preservation and environmental sustainability initiatives.
  6. For an excellent example of trail-oriented land use planning, please see the Midtown Greenway’s Land Use Development Plan

  7. Attached please find a copy of the City Planning Commission’s recent review of the Lafitte Greenway Master Plan. Note their recommendation to integrate this plan into the Citywide Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance effort.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss these matters in greater detail. Also please feel free to contact my fellow board members: Dr. Lake Douglas who is a professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at LSU, and architect Daniel Samuels.

Yours sincerely,

Bart Everson
President
Friends of Lafitte Corridor

Closer to the Greenway

From New Orleans City Business:

City moving closer to work on creating Lafitte greenway
Redeveloping 3-mile stretch from Quarter to Lakeview billed as recreation hot spot
by Emilie Bahr, Staff Writer

The city has chosen a contractor to plan and design a long-anticipated greenway for a mostly derelict stretch of land connecting Mid-City, Tremé, the French Quarter and Lakeview.

Proponents say transforming the Lafitte Corridor, a ribbon of land that passes through some of the city’s most historic and storm-damaged neighborhoods, into an alternative transportation corridor would offer residents a valuable new amenity while reinvigorating surrounding communities.

In 2006, Bart Everson helped start Friends of Lafitte Corridor, one of the groups advocating for a linear park that has at its center a paved bicycle and pedestrian path.

greenway4872

(Photo by Frank Aymami)

“It’s not just a bike and pedestrian path,” Everson said. “It’s also an economic revitalization plan for the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The corridor runs along a former shipping channel that once connected the northern edge of the French Quarter with Bayou St. John. The canal was filled in 1938, and part of the site was converted to a rail line.

Plans to convert the largely abandoned, three-mile industrial strip into a public greenway have been floated since the 1970s, but the proposals never gained much mainstream traction until Hurricane Katrina.

Jake Wagner, an urban planning specialist helping shape greenway plans, said the storm provided the impetus for translating what for years seemed little more than an idealist’s fantasy into a real possibility. Since the storm, a revitalized Lafitte Corridor has been incorporated in all of the city redevelopment proposals.

The city has chosen Design Workshop of Austin, Texas, to do the planning and design work on the project, which is slated to be built in phases. The trail portion of the greenway will be completed in the first phase, said Debravka Gilic, director of strategic planning for the Office of Recovery and Development Administration.

According to FOLC, about $3 million has been set aside for planning, design and construction, including about $2.6 million in community development block grants.

Everson said the eventual cost of the greenway will depend on the scope of the final proposal.

“The cost is so variable depending on how you want to do it,” he said.

Completion of the trail portion of the greenway could likely be accomplished for about $3 million, but more money is needed to make the project “the true community amenity it can become,” said Billy Fields, director of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs at the University of New Orleans.

“It’s the low-hanging fruit,” said greenway advocate Geoff Coats, formerly of the Urban Conservancy, which has worked with FOLC, other organizations and area residents to get the project going.

At a time of deep public frustration over few visible signs of post-storm recovery, Coats sees the greenway project as one city officials can point to as a success story.

“I think it’s one of the most fully baked, fully developed projects,” he said. “There’s no downside to it at all that I can see.”

Planners envision locals using the greenway for recreation and bicycle commuting, while tourists would make their way from their French Quarter hotels to City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art and Bayou St. John.

Wagner believes the greenway could be incorporated into cultural heritage tourism.

“You can explain most of the major phases of New Orleans history in that small three-mile stretch,” he said. “You’ve got the entire architectural history of the city” represented.

Fields, former research director for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C., said the greenway could serve as a model for trail-oriented development, a concept that plays on transit-rooted development, or the idea that private investment naturally follows public investment in major transportation nodes.

“You see this in New York, in Tokyo, on a massive scale,” Wagner said, referring to the concentrations of commercial development that can be found in those cities around large subway stops.

Charlie Doerr, owner of the Bayou St. John store Bayou Bicycles, is among the business owners hoping to reap the greenway’s benefits.

“Our backdoor opens out basically right on to it,” said Doerr, sitting in his office looking through a window at what is currently vacant land. But he is optimistic that one day, he’ll be watching bicyclists, walkers and runners move by. He’s already started thinking about starting a bike rental service to tap into the influx of new visitors.

“Once the thing is open, people are gonna use it and we’ll be right in the middle of it,” he said.

Nice article. Now if you want to learn more, please come to the upcoming meeting of Friends of Lafitte Corridor:

Design Professionals Explain the Work about to be Done on the Greenway and hear about FOLC’s 5th Annual Corridor Hike

Come join us for the latest Greenway update and news of our upcoming Corridor Hike! The City is about to award a contract for Lafitte Greenway design and Lafitte Corridor Revitalization planning. Learn exactly what that entails and how you can have your say in what the Greenway will be like. Lake Douglas, FOLC Board member and LSU Professor of Landscape Architecture; and Daniel Samuels, architect and past President of FOLC; and current Chair of the Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee, explain the process and tell you what sort of timeline we anticipate for construction. Also Bart Everson and Jeff Schwartz will announce plans for our 5th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor. – It’s all at the FOLC Membership Meeting – Thurs April 23rd at 6:30PM at Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal St.

Bring a friend & sign up for FOLC membership

President

Been a little too preoccupied to write much here the last few days. Taking care of a sick daughter. Also visiting with my parents; I haven’t seen them as much as one might suppose as they’re staying at Camp Restore and doing volunteer work to help rebuild New Orleans.

Nevertheless life churns on. I suppose the most dramatic development for me personally is that, as of Thursday night, I am now president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.

I’m both honored and excited to take this position. FOLC and its mission are very dear to my heart. I come on the heels of FOLC’s first president Daniel Samuels, who has done a lot of heavy lifting. During that period I have served as FOLC’s Chair, meaning that I ran the board meetings, so this represents a shift of focus for me, from process to active involvement. Daniel is very detail-oriented at a level I could never be, and I devoutly hope he continues to mind those details as a member of the board. But since a good foundation has already been lain, hopefully I will be able to direct my efforts in a slightly different direction, concentrating more on outreach. As president I believe my primary role will be to represent the organization to the public, to seek partnerships, to build enthusiasm and support for the project of the greenway and the revitalization of the Lafitte Corridor — in short, to share the vision widely. I hope I can do our mission justice.

Still, I don’t think I’ve ever been president of anything. I’ve never wanted to be president of anything before. And so it feels a little weird. Therefore, this might be a good time to remind myself not to confuse authority with leadership. As president, I’m authorized by the organization to do certain things. I’ll be expected to accomplish those tasks. But that’s not leadership. That’s just doing the job. In fact, leadership is never authorized, yet it’s something we all have an opportunity to exercise on a regular basis. It’s not a position occupied but an initiative taken. Indeed, FOLC’s whole project might be seen as an exercise in leadership, pushing forward on a project everyone agrees would be beneficial to the community as a whole but which has never been given priority. No one authorized us; we just started pushing. That’s leadership. I hope I’m able to remember that true leadership can come from anywhere, from anyone, at any time. I hope that I’m able to recognize it when I see it, not as a challenge to me personally, but as an opportunity for the group and the mission.

VA Lindy?

Yesterday I spoke with Jennifer Weishaupt, president of Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, about the possibility of the VA hospital at the site of the old Lindy Boggs Medical Center (Mercy Hospital).

As you may be aware, Victory Real Estate Investments has assembled some parcels of land, including the old hospital. They were hoping to build a big retail complex, but because of the downturn in the national economy, that’s looking less likely.

So Victory recently offered the land to the Veteran’s Administration. According to Jennifer, the VA has been made aware of the plans for the greenway along the Lafitte Corridor. Indeed, they seem to have an appreciation for the value of it — and it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it, that a public health entity would see the value of a public health infrastructure.

Alternative Site for VA Hospital

The illustration above shows the proposed alternative VA site (yellow border) and the path of the greenway on the Lafitte Corridor (green line).

But moreover, I think the Lindy Boggs site offers some advantages over the current “front runner” location in lower Mid-City.
Continue reading “VA Lindy?”

FOLC in the Zone

WWL-TV will do a feature on the Lafitte Corridor this Thursday morning at 7:45 AM.

This is part of a series called “In the Zone.” They’re covering a different recovery zone each segment. They’ve done almost all of them, so this is one of the last. If you want to see previous episodes in this series, look online.

I did an interview with them Friday, right on the Lafitte Corridor. The camera operator said he’s shot hundreds of stories about projects around town. He said he’s cynical and skeptical toward just about everything — but THIS project turned him on, big-time. That was pretty inspirational to me.

They’re hoping to shoot interviews with a few other folks. Linda Landesberg and Edgar Chase will also appear in studio. The reporter, Rob Nelson, seemed to have a pretty good handle on the issues, so I expect this to be some great publicity.

Please tune in, and if anybody has a means to conveniently capture the broadcast as a digital file, please let me know.

The Hike Report

I had no idea how many people to expect for today’s 4th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor. Last year we had 16 or 17, the year before that, the same. But this year we had better publicity thanks to the sponsorship of Massey’s Professional Outfitters. If we doubled our numbers we’d be successful beyond my wildest dreams.

But we didn’t double our numbers. We just about quadrupled them.

I was absolutely knocked out, astonished, amazed, flabbergasted even, by this response. How to explain it? I’d like to think everyone was drawn by the sheer force of my charisma, but even I can’t swallow that one.

Maybe it was the lunch at Massey’s.

Or maybe it’s an indication that this project’s time has come.

Group Photo

Here’s a set of 22 photos I took. See also the Lafitte Corridor group pool. In fact, if you took any pictures of the hike yourself, please add them to the pool.

I gotta give props again to Massey’s. The only estimate they had was the numbers I gave them, and I low-balled it. As we started hiking, I gave them a call. (Up to this point all our arrangements had been made over e-mail. In fact, I didn’t even have their number in my phone — had to look it up on Google Maps.) “Uh, you remember the ‘wildest dreams’ estimate I gave you? Well, double that.” And to their great credit, they rolled with it like the pros they are. They quickly got more food for lunch and chartered a bus for the return shuttle.

Somehow we seemed to move much faster as a large group. I’ve got timestamped photos from each of the previous hikes that prove our smaller groups moved much more slowly. You’d have thought it would be the opposite. My theory is that smaller groups can stop and linger for discussion much more easily. Sixty people, not so much. So we just kept hiking.

I really don’t relish organizing events. But already my thoughts are turning to next year’s hike. Hopefully it will be even bigger, or at least comparable. I hope some of this year’s participants return and can see some progress made on building the greenway. The portion between Jeff Davis and Carrollton was the roughest patch, actually hazardous in places with high weeds and industrial debris. Next year it should be the easiest stretch, as that’s the first place we hope to lay asphalt.

PS: Of course no post on this subject would be complete without a link to the Friends of Lafitte Corridor. Go join now.

Update: Here’s two other blog accounts of the hike: Blazing (hot) trail by NOLA Cleophatra and Hot on the trail by the inimitable Dangerblond. Hmmm… I guess it was pretty warm out there… I didn’t really notice. But thanks for writing about it, y’all.

Thoughts Before the Hike

As we hike the length of the abandoned rail line known as the Lafitte Corridor tomorrow, we’ll pass by the Lafitte public housing development. Or perhaps I should say the ruins of this development. These buildings are currently being demolished, and the sight is quite dramatic to say the least. The demolition of these properties has been extremely controversial, provoking plenty of passion both for and against.

I thought this would be a good time to revisit FOLC’s “Statement on the Lafitte Greenway and Lafitte Community,” which was formulated about nine months ago:

September 22, 2007

Friends of Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) recognizes and respects the Lafitte community’s history of association with and pioneering development of recreational and community amenities in the Lafitte Corridor. Facilities such as Lemann Playground, Lemann Pool, Sojourner Truth Center, and community gardens were developed to serve the Lafitte and Treme neighborhoods.

FOLC’s vision for the Lafitte Greenway is based upon the preservation and improvement of all existing public recreational and community amenities in the Lafitte Corridor.

The Lafitte community must be actively engaged in planning and implementation of the Lafitte Greenway.

FOLC recognizes the destructive impact of the Lafitte Community’s extended displacement and supports immediate action to facilitate the return of all displaced New Orleanians.

FOLC’s mission is founded upon the principle that all communities adjoining the Lafitte Greenway should enjoy the Greenway’s benefits equitably. These benefits will include:

  • a safe off-street route for pedestrians and cyclists linking residents to adjoining neighborhoods, schools and public facilities, places of work and commerce
  • new opportunities for public health and recreation
  • renewed investment in storm-damaged neighborhoods
  • new opportunity for promotion of environmental education and heritage tourism
  • a more sustainable, livable city

Something to think about. See you at the front gate of Armstrong Park, tomorrow morning, 10:00 AM.

My Mission as FOLC Chair

As preparation for being a father, I backed off my involvement with a couple nonprofits. I resigned from the board of the Urban Conservancy and did not seek re-election as Communications Director for the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization. I still believe in these groups’ missions; I just felt I needed to make time for being a dad, not to mention finishing up our renovation.

But with one organization, I didn’t back off. In fact, I stepped up. I’m talking about Friends of Lafitte Corridor. I’m now honored to be serving as the chair for this nonprofit corporation. (We just got our 501(c)3 status, so it’s legal.) I decided to stay involved with FOLC because it’s closest to my heart as an organization that I helped found, still a fledgling but with a lot of momentum.

Beyond that, I felt a personal calling to stick my neck out and exercise a little more leadership. Thus I volunteered to chair the organization. This is not something I take lightly. So I thought I’d just take a moment to reflect publicly on my philosophy.

Some people are confused by organizations that include both a president and a chair. However, I think this structure makes a lot of sense. I see the president as an executive position, primarily focused on taking actions to advance the organization’s mission. The vice-president and at-large board members also serve this function. The chair, on the other hand, like the Treasurer and Secretary, focuses on the organization’s internal processes.

I’m not some kind of wonky process geek, no matter what my friends say. I want to see results and a final product just like everyone else. But I think I do have slightly more of an orientation toward process than most people, and so I put myself forward to fill this role.

This means putting my own desires and my own personal opinions on the back burner, and focusing on the group process. It also means maintaining a focus on the “big picture” — the mission — and not getting bogged down in executive details. And let’s face it, there are a lot of details involved in such an ambitious project as we have set for ourselves: the building of a three-mile urban greenway. The executive board members have their work cut out for them.

As chair, my primary responsibility within FOLC is running the monthly board meetings and the quarterly membership meetings. Anybody who’s been to a poorly organized meeting (haven’t we all?) knows how painful and exhausting they can be. But a well-run meeting can leave people feeling energized and confident that the organization is moving in the right direction. My guidebook is the Democratic Rules of Order, which I recommend unreservedly to anyone who participates in meetings on a regular basis. I wouldn’t wish Robert’s Rules on my worst enemy.

Over the course of time conflicts will emerge in any group. With a fair process in place, these conflicts can be resolved. But people have to believe in the process. They also have to trust that the chair is impartial and will treat all sides fairly. In other words, the chair can’t have a dog in the fight. It’s important for the chair to remain somewhat aloof from the issues, from the actual substance of the organization’s business.

For example, I generally try to avoid bringing motions myself. Better to let others bring the motions and debate them; let the chair focus on the process of the meeting, making sure discussion is proceeding in a civil and timely fashion, and that matters are put to a vote when the time is right.

Because an efficient meeting requires a coherent agenda, I’ve also taken on the responsibility for setting the agenda for each meeting. It’s tricky to set the agenda without advancing my own ideas about what the organization should do. My tactic is to simply compile the agenda, taking direction from other board members. Most recently, in an effort to maintain focus and efficiency, I’ve taken to asking for any “new business” items to be submitted in the form of a motion, in writing. I worried this might be a little too formal, but I think it is actually working out pretty well.

As chair, you may find that I don’t always know every last detail of what we as an organization are doing. But please don’t think that I don’t care or that I’m absent-minded (even though I am). It’s because the cognitive resources which I’m devoting to FOLC are focused on our internal processes instead. I’m trying to make sure that our organization functions in a way that is both efficient and equitable, that we stay on mission and act in accordance with our core values. So if you have a concern regarding process, by all means bring it to me and I will do what I can to make it right. If you have suggestions on how to better conduct our meetings, let me know.

PS: Of course you’re welcome to discuss any of these lofty matters when you join us for the 4th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor this Saturday morning.

Hike the Lafitte Corridor

What are you doing for National Trails Day? If you’re in New Orleans, please join us for the 4th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor.

Hiking

It’s hard to believe this is the fourth such event. The first one only had three hikers and no fanfare. The second hike led to the formation of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.

We’ve advertising this one as absolutely the last chance to hike the corridor in its undeveloped state. Eventually this three-mile stretch of old railroad corridor will be a beautiful greenway with bicycle and pedestrian paths, parklike in places, tying together disparate neighborhoods and providing a great amenity to everyone in New Orleans. That grand scheme will take a while. But by the time we have our 5th Annual Hike, there’s at least gonna be some pavement in place, for at least a portion. That’s a promise.

The reason I’m so passionate about this project is that I have to be. It’s gaining momentum only because citizens — regular people like you and me — have gotten involved and pushed it forward. That citizen involvement is essential to the positive transformation of New Orleans, and this hike is a great way to celebrate that. It’s also a good way to learn more about the greenway project as well as the history and future of the city itself.

Plus, it’s fun. And there’s lunch.

Personally I am very excited about the fact that this year we’ve got an official sponsor: Massey’s Professional Outfitters. They’re a business right on the corridor, and their support for this event has been fantastic. They’ll be providing lunch as well as transportation back to the point of origin.

So here’s the details:

Saturday June 7
10:00 AM: Meet at main entrance to Armstrong Park (Rampart St.)
Noonish: Lunch at Massey’s (509 N Carrollton)
1:00 PM: Finish at Canal Blvd. Shuttle back to Armstrong Park

It’s a three mile hike, and the weather is sure to be hot, and parts of the path are overgrown and weedy. So dress accordingly, and bring some sunscreen.

Did I mention Massey’s is supplying lunch?

Hike the Lafitte Corridor Flyer

Please download the flyer and share with all your friends and neighbors. This is a grassroots effort and we need word-of-mouth.

Mark your calendar, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Hike 3

I wish I’d had a day of rest upon returning to New Orleans, but of course I didn’t. Sunday morning started off with the third annual hike of the Lafitte Corridor.

We began with a dozen people and finished with seventeen.

After the Hike

Click the picture to view a set of 20 wild and wacky pictures from along the route.

(Michael Homan has also posted a set of gulp 273 photos, a neat trick considering he only joined us for ten minutes. His new camera made the trip, though; I think Therese took most of the pictures, but maybe she passed the camera to Alan also.)

Thanks to everyone who came along. We had almost as many hikers as last year, but very few repeat offenders. I was disappointed that no one from Ed Blakely’s office joined us.

I hope everyone will consider getting involved with Friends of Lafitte Corridor. We will have a booth at the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo this Saturday, so stop by to learn more about one of the most positive projects in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Update: Photo essay of the hike at New Orleans Nation.

Update: We’ve got Kalypso’s support.

3rd Annual Hike

One day in May 2005, three friends got together and hiked three miles through the heart of New Orleans along the old Norfolk-Southern rail line, the so-called “Lafitte Corridor.”

Walking

Last May, 18 people made the hike.

Pausing Briefly

Approaching the End

And now we’re doing it again.

Route
(Click to enlarge the map.)

Last year’s hike sparked the birth of the Friends of Lafitte Corridor, also known as FOLC, a group that has been campaigning tirelessly to preserve this open space and convert it into a public trail — an urban greenway.

Who knows what this year’s hike will bring?

We will meet at the main entrance to Armstrong Park at 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 20th.

Please join us! This event is a good opportunity to meet others interested in the greenway project, to learn about what’s been accomplished so far, and to explore the territory.

The hike takes just under two hours. I recommend bringing sunscreen and water. If you are not in good health, you may not wish to undertake this journey, as it will probably be a hot day and there are a few areas of slightly rough terrain. The hike will end at the Bulldog on Canal Blvd, where lunch and beer are available.

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes. In fact, you may want to wear boots or long pants, as there may be high weeds in a couple of places.

PS: You can also examine pictures in the Lafitte Corridor Pool on Flickr.

After Hike

The Second Annual Lafitte Corridor Rail Hike was a screaming success!

Railroad Crossing

On Sunday, May 21st, eighteen of us hiked about three miles from Armstrong Park to Canal Boulevard, right through Mid-City following the old Norfolk-Southern rail line. The Louisiana Institute of Film Technology is building a film studio on a key parcel of this land, and they’re including a bike path, which we hope will add momentum to our efforts. We plan to build a three mile bike path and linear park that will connect Armstrong Park to City Park and ultimately make it possible for people to walk or ride all the way from the river to the lake.

You can also see pix of this grand event taken by Michael and Bart.
If you’re interested, please join the FOLC discussion group.

2nd Annual Hike

On May 21st of last year, with a couple friends, I hiked about three miles through New Orleans following the (mostly) abandoned Norfolk-Southern rail line. This line runs from Armstrong Park to Canal Boulevard, through the area known as the “Lafitte Corridor.”

Route

We thought it was an excellent candidate for a Rails-to-Trails project. We still do. A lot has changed over the last year, but in the new New Orleans this project seems more possible than ever. In fact, I am working with a group of neighbors that recently submitted a grant proposal to the state, proposing to build this trail. (I can’t take much credit for the hard work of writing the grant, though. The props go to Amy Lafont.)

So… this year we’re doing it again, and you’re invited to join us! It is my hope that this event will be a good opportunity to meet others interested in the project, to learn more about the possibilities and to explore the territory.

We will meet at the main entrance to Armstrong Park at noon on Sunday, May 21st.

The hike took about 90 minutes last year, but could take longer depending on how fast the group moves. I recommend bringing sunscreen and water. If you are not in good health, you may not wish to undertake this journey, as it will probably be a hot day and there are a few areas of slightly rough terrain. The hike will end at the Bulldog on Canal Blvd or at NolaJava, depending on what people are in the mood for.

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.

PS: You can also examine the set of pictures I took on last year’s hike.

No Glory

It really chapped my ass to read the story on the front page of today’s paper, about the big movie production studio which is planned to be built next to the Lafitte housing project.

I’m not opposed to the project — I see it as a hugely positive boon to the neighborhood. The inclusion of a vocational school is great.

What irritates me is that I learned about this three months ago. Continue reading “No Glory”

Three Mile Hike

Route

Michael H. and David B. and I went for a three-mile hike along an abandoned railway corridor that cuts through Mid-City. We think it’s an excellent candidate for a rails-to-trails conversion. This was an just initial exploratory scoping. More to come. (I took a couple hundred photos!)

Three Mile Hike

I also got a sunburn.