July 5, 2016
Audubon Park Maintenance and Improvement Projects Underway
Jogging Path Resurfacing Begins Today
(New Orleans, La.) - The latest project on an extensive list of Audubon Park improvements is set to begin today when a make over for the popular, 1.8-mile exercise path, a favorite of runners, walkers and cyclists, gets underway.
Underwritten by the Goldring and Woldenberg foundations, the end-to-end repairs along the asphalt path will be done in four phases, with completion scheduled for early September. The phased construction schedule that calls for closing only one section at a time will allow park patrons to use the course while the work is being done.
Signs announcing the project were posted in the park last week.
The repair job for the path - the first in 15 years - is part of a five-year improvement plan that has already seen a major tree-planting initiative, park shelter improvements and installation of new sidewalks, lighting, park benches and five exercise stations.
Still to come are playground upgrades and additional shelter improvements, including work at the Walnut Street shelter sponsored by Anne Montgomery and family.
The work is being funded by the Audubon Park Conservancy, a major fundraising effort launched in 2012 to generate revenue for maintenance needs and new improvements in the park. The Conservancy's first initiative was the Olmsted Renewed capital campaign - named for John Charles Olmsted, the park's designer - which has raised nearly $10 million from private donors to fund the improvement plan and boost the park's endowment.
Audubon Park Conservancy continues to raise funds for day-to-day care and annual maintenance.
"For generations, Audubon Park has been a special and sacred place for residents of the metropolitan area and visitors alike," said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. "Audubon Park belongs to everyone and with continued help from supporters of the Conservancy, we are committed to preserving its status as a unique urban oasis."
With live oaks perhaps the most-beloved aspect of Audubon Park, tree planting and preservation is a top priority of the fundraising efforts. Ongoing tree care includes installation of lightning protection, termite treatment, pruning and root aeration.
The generosity of several donors, notably Kitty and Stephen Sherrill and Chevron Corporation, has been instrumental in that effort. Over the last three years, more than 50 new trees have been planted in the park, including a pair of 1,400-gallon live oaks in the stately alley, or allée, extending from Newman Bandstand to the Hyams Fountain.
In addition, the Conservancy has helped address longstanding challenges facing the park's iconic lagoon, named for New Orleans philanthropists Dorothy and James Coleman. Once overwhelmed with duckweed, the lagoon is now serviced throughout the year and the difference is clear to see, especially in the intense heat of summer.
Thanks to the support of Tom and Gayle Benson, soft ambient lights now wash over the St. Charles Avenue entrance to the park, including the Gumbel Fountain, Stern Memorial Gates and nearby live oaks. Sidewalks along the avenue also have been repaved.
Conservancy funding also has provided for installation of solar-powered emergency phones, increased trash and litter collection, replacement of park benches and the upcoming addition of new bike racks and trash cans.
The new exercise stations, sponsored by philanthropist Boatner Reily, will soon be followed by improvements to park playgrounds. Thanks to the Louellen and Daryl Berger Family, the St. Charles Avenue site will get a new, rubberized safety surface and upgrades to the play structure. At the Walnut Street playground, the entire play structure and the rubberized surface will be replaced.
Audubon Nature Institute is responsible for operation of Audubon Park under a management agreement with the Audubon Commission and the city of New Orleans. Audubon Nature Institute annually funds an estimated $2.11 million operating budget for Audubon Park through revenue from admission-based attractions and private fundraising.
To join Audubon Park Conservancy and help care for Audubon Park, click here.
Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park.