New Look at Cabrini Park Issues?
Cabrini Park, the French Quarter's only resident-oriented green space, is in the news. Council Member Kristin Gisleson Palmer recently secured Council approval to rezone Cabrini Park from residential (VCR) to park (VCP). Nobody has proposed developing Cabrini Park, but part of the area is owned by the cash-strapped School Board. Changing the zoning is a prudent step that precludes development. FQC testified in favor, and urges new rules limiting outside activities to those appropriate to, and respectful of, the surrounding residential neighborhood.
Changing the zoning also paves the way for initiatives aimed at infrastructure improvements, maintenance, and security. At a recent meeting hosted by Council- member Palmer, New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) Commission Chair Roy Glapion stated that NORD might be able do more to address these long-standing problems.
Hampering improvements, however, are long-standing and deeply felt differences about how the space is to be used. Help for resolving use issues may come from the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Engagement (ONE), which NORD has used to help mobilize neighborhood agreement on other city playgrounds. FQC is working actively to promote efforts ensuring that Cabrini Park can accommodate both current and historic uses. Important will be reaching out to community stakeholders, including French Quarter community advocacy groups such as FQC, VCPORA, Lower Quarter Crime Watch, residents, dog owners who have long used Cabrini Park and have contributed to diminishing the impact of dogs on the usability of the park; and officials from McDonogh 15, which was historically located on the Cabrini site and still maintains an interest in using Cabrini Park as children's play and exercise space.