The Levee Park —
from Audubon Park to the Jefferson Parish Line
Sheldon Hersh, MD
Uptown Triangle Neighborhood Association Newsletter
Imagine linking Carrollton with the French Quarter. Imagine bringing economic development and rising property values to our neighborhoods without changing our quality of life. Imagine all this without the burden of more cars, traffic, parking, pollution, or heavy construction. This vision came closer to reality last month when the City Planning Commission incorporated the Levee Park into their Riverfront Vision 2005.
The idea for the Levee Park was born in the Riverbend and nurtured by all four Leake Avenue neighborhoods. The levee green space is used as a public park for walking, jogging, cycling, picnicking, horseback riding, and as a dog park. But this unique, two-mile, panoramic, levee green space is not a park; it is officially zoned for Light and Heavy Industry.
Using the levee for an industrial site would isolate the levee, and pull it away from our neighborhood. Declaring the levee a Park will pull the levee and the riverfront towards our neighborhood. So in 2004, we used a consensus-building process to develop a vision for our century-old neighborhood and riverfront; our vision was to create the Levee Park from Audubon Park to the Jefferson Parish Line.
The Crescent City is defined by two bends in the river — one Downtown at the French Quarter and one Uptown at the Riverbend. The Levee Park will create new opportunities for tourism by creating a riverfront linkage between the Riverbend and the French Quarter.
Carrollton has always been a resort and entertainment destination. We propose an attractive loop, where visitors from downtown hotels can take a riverboat cruise to Carrollton and return downtown on the streetcar for a unique experience, just as they did 150 years ago. The Levee Park will enable tourists to take this new riverboat-streetcar loop and explore our city, “from one bend in the river to the other.”
We do this by extending the riverboat John James Audubon only one extra mile, from the back of Audubon Park, where it already docks, to a newly-restored riverboat landing in the Riverbend near St. Charles and Carrollton Avenue. This riverfront landing will serve as an entryway into our historic neighborhood.
We already have the tourist infrastructure to accommodate increased business and foot traffic, which a tourist-friendly riverfront would bring. Tourists will be here in the daytime and go home at night. The only thing they leave in our area is their joy and their tourist dollars. They will eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and walk our neighborhood streets before boarding the streetcar or riverboat to return to their downtown hotels.
The Levee Park will help revitalize Oak Street. Tourists can arrive at Oak Street by riverboat, take a walking tour down historic Oak Street to Carrollton Avenue and return downtown by streetcar, making another unique, attractive loop.
Park services might include educational kiosks, monuments, benches, landscaping, lighting, and security. The City Planning Commission recommended an official Dog Park within the Levee Park, in the area between Audubon Park and the Corps of Engineers. The City Planning Commission’s sensitivity to our neighborhood concerns proves that citizen participation does work. The next step is approval by the City Council.
The Levee Park will protect our levee green space and riverfront for our children while allowing us to benefit from our unique architecture and character; it will transform the levee and Leake Avenue corridor — now our neighborhood’s back door — into our neighborhood’s front door.