February 19, 2024 | From City of New Orleans

UPDATED: City of New Orleans Unveils “The Big Green Easy” Parks Master Plan

NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans today unveiled the “The Big Green Easy” parks master plan. This is a groundbreaking step towards ensuring equitable access to the benefits of parks, recreation and greenspace.  

In 2022, the City of New Orleans was awarded an impactful grant by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) to develop a comprehensive citywide park and recreation master plan. The Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF), the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission and the Department of Parks and Parkways, in partnership with Audubon Nature Institute and City Park Conservancy, engaged Design Workshop to capture the vision and produce the plan. With the completed plan, the City is set to address decades of uneven investment and disparities in park conditions.   

"We are Doing the Work to invest in our people, which will position New Orleans for today and well into the future," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "This plan will help us meet our residents where they are regarding their desire for more, expanded and equitable green space."

“As we continue to build upon the vision set forth by the Youth Master Plan, ‘The Big Green Easy’ is a natural and essential extension of this vision,” said OYF Director Asya Howlette. “Our office is committed to supporting the development of nature-based, sustainable play spaces in partnership with youth and community stakeholders so that youth and families can thrive.” 

“This new master plan is a significant advancement in our efforts to create a vibrant, more resilient parks system for our diverse and growing community," said NORD CEO Larry Barabino Jr. “I am thrilled to be a part of today's unveiling and want to thank NRPA, all of our partners, residents and volunteers for their commitment to helping shape a clear and sustainable vision for our parks.”

For many New Orleanians, parks, play spaces and the waterfronts are not just greenspaces but integral components for their health, happiness and overall well-being. However, disparities in park conditions, play spaces and accessibility have been stark, disproportionately affecting the city’s most disadvantaged populations. After conducting various workshop sessions, focus groups, stakeholder conversations and meeting residents where they are via Park Ambassadors, "The Big Green Easy" is a historic and community-driven framework for citywide park and recreation investments.   

“The Big Green Easy is New Orleans' opportunity to make generational investments in public green spaces,” said Director of Parks and Parkways Michael Karam. “The Department of Parks and Parkways looks forward to applying the master plan, generated by public, Park Partner, Park Ambassador and professional input, into current park use and when crafting future greenspaces to strengthen communities.” 

For the first time in New Orleans history, the plan prioritizes projects based on community needs and feedback, aiming to bridge the gap in park disparities. The urgency of implementation is emphasized by the city's increasing vulnerability to climate change, resulting in rising temperatures and increased flood risks. This comprehensive plan offers a path forward, celebrating the distinct cultures and identities of New Orleans while fostering a cooler, greener, healthier, more resilient and just city for all.  "The Big Green Easy" is not just a plan for parks; it's a commitment to a more inclusive, vibrant and resilient New Orleans. 

“The plan presents a solid framework for building a park system for the future, grounded in providing equal opportunities for play and recreation to all of our residents. It is a terrific step forward,” said City Park Conservancy President and CEO Cara M. Lambright.

“We are excited about the opportunities that this comprehensive, citywide parks and recreation master plan holds for our citizens and visitors,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “Audubon Nature Institute is committed to equitable, accessible and quality green spaces for the entire community. We are delighted that our historic parks are part of this future forward-thinking and all-inclusive plan.” 

To read the “Big Green Easy” and learn more about the parks masterplan, please visit: Office of Youth and Families - Citywide Park and Recreation Master Plan

To learn more about the Youth Master Plan, please visit CYPB Youth Master Plan 


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