Lemann Playground #2

by Charlie London

Lemann #2 Gets Cleared!

Lemann Playground #2 at Lafitte and Claiborne Avenues finally got cleared during July, 2011. Check out the pictures below to see just how high the weeds were. The weeds were as tall as trees!

Lafitte Greenway Clear/Fence – City of New Orleans – Bid …
Bid Description, Lafitte Greenway Clear/Fence.
CONTRACTORS: click here to bid on clearing the site described below
Fill out this TAX_CLEARANCE_FORM and send it in with your bid
Survey of Site 1 to be cleared –> Square_212A_Survey
Survey of Site 2 to be cleared –>Square_280A_Survey
March, 2011
This project will require the contractor to include a licensed plumber and a licensed electrician on the team. The contract shall comply with applicable provisions in the City’s Invitation to Bid and corresponding attachments.
The work to be performed will cover two sites, described below:
Site 1: Second District, Square 212, Lot 1 and Lot 3 (see Surveys “Square 212A Second District”)
Area bounded by N. Claiborne, Lafitte, Galvez and St. Louis (Not including Lemann Pool)
A portion of this site was recently used to house 126 FEMA trailers with temporary electrical and sewer hook-ups. Most of these lines were at-grade and have been removed informally. There are 4 to 5 spurs off pre-existing sewer and electrical lines under Lafitte street. From the connection points, these spurs run parallel to Lafitte street and measure roughly 80 ft. in length each. Much of the site is severely overgrown, but does contain some mature trees. A large portion of the site is paved or gravel-packed and there are a number of telephone poles on the site. There is a playground in disrepair at the corner of Lafitte and Claiborne. Located near the corner of Galvez and Lafitte is a small structure surrounded by overgrowth. Its previous use is unknown. The site is surrounded by patchy fencing and also contains a few interior fence lines.
Site Description
1) Remove and cap the sewer and electrical lines on the site.
Scope of Work
2) Clear all non-mature trees, shrubs, stumps and weeds. The paved and packed portions of the side need not be removed, but any non-mature plant growth in the paved and packed areas should be cleared.
3) Remove all playground equipment near corner of N. Claiborne Ave. and Lafitte St.
4) Secure the small structure with plywood.
5) Remove and salvage interior fencing within the site – bring salvaged materials to a City designated location within 2.0 miles of the work site.
6) Repair and replace fence as necessary along the site perimeter.
7) Maintain and repair a manually operable gate accessible to vehicles located on Claiborne. Install a locking mechanism. Deliver ten (10) copies of the lock’s key to City.
The tall telephone poles shall be maintained as-is.
Other notes
Site 2: Second District, Square 280A, Lot 1 and Lot 2 (see Surveys “Square 280A Second District”)
Area bounded by Galvez, Lafitte, Rocheblave and St. Louis (Not including Sojourner Truth Community Center)
This site was not used for FEMA trailers and does not require utility removal. The site has been partially maintained by community partners, but still has overgrown portions that include shrubs, stumps and weeds. Limited dumping has occurred on the site.
Scope of Work
1) Clear all shrubs, stumps, weeds, and trash.
In the letter at the bottom of this page, it is noted that the area will be cleared on December 10, 2010.
As of noon on December 10th, no work had begun.
Still no work as of January 10th, 2011

There have been many reasons given by the City of New Orleans why Lemann Playground #2 on Claiborne at Lafitte Street cannot be cleared of 6 ft tall weeds and debris.

The City alleges that this is part of the old “Lift Studio” land sold by the City after the storm to a film studio. The City further alleges that this land was recently reacquired but access to it is limited.

Access to the Lemann #2 site is anything but limited. This area runs right along the proposed Lafitte Corridor site and has an open gravel road running the full length of Lemann #2 where large mowing equipment could easily access the site.

This photo was taken from the road that runs along Lemann #2. Notice just how tall the weeds are compared to the stadium style lights in the background.

Check out the height of the weeds as compared to the 6ft tall chain link just outside the weeds.

The pool was reopened in 2009. The City maintains the pool and the area around the pool with relative ease.

It should be noted that the pool area sits directly in the middle of the Lemann #2 Playground. It is surrounded on both sides by giant weeds.

Weeds have almost totally engulfed this building on the Lemann #2 site near North Prieur and Lafitte Streets.

The time for action at Lemann Playground #2 is now.

All the photos above were taken with an iPhone.

I understand that FEMA was not obligated to restore this former FEMA trailer site back as a playground because it became the LIFT site. In about a dozen or so other playgrounds around the City that were temporary FEMA trailer sites after Katrina, (like Lemann #1 across Claiborne), FEMA was required to fully restore the sites as playgrounds. This was not the case of the former Lemann #2, which under Dr. Blakely became the LIFT site, a deal that eventually fell apart, putting the land to Sheriffs sale. All of this happened prior to this new administration.

In a discussion with Mayor Landrieu before their Inauguration, Cm Guidry identified the Lafitte Greenway and Lafitte Corridor Revitalization Project as her No. 1 Priority project, and in the 10 days following the May 3rd Inauguration, at the request of the administration, Cm Guidry secured letters of support for the Lafitte Greenway from the Councilmembers from Districts B and C, as well as both At-large Councilmembers.
June 1st, Cm Guidry obtained a funding overview of the Lafitte Greenway project.
June 3rd, Cm Guidry sponsored the legislation reauthorizing the Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee.
June 6th, access was secured by the City of New Orleans to the LIFT site (Mayor re-purchased site, with assistance from the Trust for Public Land) for use as part of the Lafitte Greenway Project.
The electrical hookups and other infrastructure from the former FEMA trailer park prevent grass-cutting wherever that infrastructure remains. The infrastructure requires professional removal.

During the past summer, even though no design work had yet been awarded for the Greenway Project, Cm Guidry obtained a commitment from Ann MacDonald for Parks and Parkways to cut the area immediately around Lemann Pool so that the pool could be used by the children. I understand that the Sheriff’s office also assists in keeping areas by the pool and the access road clear.

August 9th Design Workshop was selected (again) as the successful bidder on Lafitte Greenway Project, allowing the City-led project team to move forward with planning and stakeholder input, assisted by the Lafitte Corridor Steering Advisory Committee.

The neighbors and former users of the Lemann #2 playground will enjoy a rich, varied, and truly ground-breaking recreational corridor in their neighborhood, linking to other neighborhoods beyond. But this area will not necessarily be a regular NORD playground as it was before. “Lemann Playground” now refers to the area on the “downtown side” of Claiborne Avenue, where there is currently some football programming. The old Lemann #2 site is a vital part of the Lafitte Greenway. Everyone involved with the Greenway is working for it to be the best that it can be – physical features, with programming, neighborhood commerce, etc – but the Design Workshop bid was just accepted, and the formal designs for the Lafitte Greenway as a whole are just beginning.

Following a recent Town Hall meeting, our office requested and received the following timeline from the Administration on having the trailer hookups and other infrastructure removed from the site:

10/13/10 – Grant Amendment
10/28/10 – Small Purchase Agreement Contract (moving faster because its under $15,000, still, 3 bidders are required to bid on removal of infrastructure)
11/22/10 – Construction activity – 2 weeks
12/10/10 – Site cleared

Many working on the Lafitte Greenway Project suggest that when the infrastructure removed and this area can be maintained, the community will consider asking for removal of the fences. This would provide access to the land while the full Greenway planning process proceeds. That can come after the infrastructure is removed.

Our office, in collaboration with the other Council offices, continues to regularly meet with advisors and community members to move this project forward.

Deborah J. Langhoff
Chief of Staff
New Orleans District A
Councilmember Susan G. Guidry
Room 2W80
1300 Perdido Street New Orleans 70112
Office: 504-658-1010
Direct: 504-658-1017
Fax: 504-658-1016
Cell: 504-914-2315