City Park Announces Governance Changes Ahead of New Master Planning Process – Mid-City Messenger

Swan and Ibis boats in City Park. (Photo by David Fischer)

Still struggling with losses from pandemic-related cancellations and damage from Hurricane Ida, City Park is taking a major step in changing its structure. The management of the 170-year-old park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the country, has been entrusted to a private non-profit group, City Park Conservancy.

The restructured management will be in place in time to raise funds for the new master plan. This process is expected to start in 2023, and park officials say it will involve broad public participation.

Below is a press release on the reorganization of the New Orleans City Park:

The City Park Improvement Association voted last week to approve a long-term agreement with new 501(c)3 nonprofit, City Park Conservancy, which will follow a governance model used nationwide to streamline the management, operations, programming, membership and fundraising for the improvement of City Park.

The creation of City Park Conservancy elevates City Park with other iconic parks across the country, including Central Park in New York, Millennial Park in Chicago, and Boston Commons.

“This is an exciting next step in the park’s journey and essential to improving the park and its upcoming new master plan, which will be based on public feedback and focused on the common good,” said said Cara Lambright, CEO of City Park. “We are thrilled to put the park on par with the best parks in the world with this streamlined structure and proven model of green space, programming and community resourcing.”

City Park has 10 bridges dating back to the 1930s Work Progress Administration. (Photo by David Fischer)

City Park Conservancy will operate under a cooperative agreement with the Improvement Association to operate and manage the park. The agreement ensures transparency and accountability through multiple measures, including a publicly approved and informed master plan, a strategic plan and an annual operating budget.

“The City Park Improvement Association and its commissioners have made tremendous strides over the years in creating a world-class park, and this transition was a long-planned improvement to better serve park users and the community. “, said David Waller, president of the ACIP. . “We are thrilled that the Conservancy is helping us improve our care for this park and the people it serves.”

In addition to the boards of directors of the City Park Improvement Association and the City Park Conservancy, the process of formulating the cooperation agreement involved the participation of four different law firms and an audit firm. The governance and oversight role of the City Park Improvement Association does not change with this agreement, and it continues to ensure that the public is served and that management is always guided by what is best for City Park.

State lawmakers approved the contracting out of City Park’s park management and operations to a nonprofit in 1989, and the City Park Improvement Association has constantly revisited the importance of this opportunity. . The recent impacts of the pandemic and Hurricane Ida have highlighted the pressures on the park’s financial resources and the need for diverse funding sources.

This, combined with CEO Lambright’s vision to improve the park and his vast experience in fundraising and the conservation model, made it clear that it was time to transition to this proven best practice park management model. at national scale.

“It’s an honor to launch the Conservancy,” said Liz Sloss, inaugural Chair of the City Park Conservancy Board of Trustees. “As custodians of this magnificent park, ensuring its continued operation and sustainability is our highest and most important role. The conservation model does exactly that.

City Park’s walking paths have become more popular during the pandemic shutdown. (Photo by David Fischer)

Friends of City Park, a non-profit organization that has supported the park since 1979, approved a merger agreement with City Park Conservancy, placing fundraising, membership, and programming under City Park Conservancy. This merger will combine resources into a single strategic plan, maximize funds for the park by reducing duplication of operations, and align initiatives to improve service delivery and the park user experience. The Friends of the City Park membership program, along with other programs park users have come to know and love, will continue.

The country’s major urban parks rely on the conservation model, which is a public-private partnership, to create vibrant and thriving public spaces. Public-private partnerships between the City Park Improvement Association and City Park Conservancy will provide best practice management of the City Park and support the park’s vital connection to the community.

The Improvement Association retains ultimate authority over the park. The City Park Improvement Association and City Park Conservancy will maintain single boards of directors to ensure the highest standards of transparency and accountability.

As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Memorial Park Conservancy in Houston, Lambright oversaw the operations of one of the nation’s largest urban parks, developing and executing… a nationally recognized master plan, quadrupling the park’s annual operating budget, and raising over $200 million for capital improvements.

The upcoming master plan for City Park will be anchored in meeting the needs of the community, deepening its historical and cultural context, improving environmental resilience and infrastructure, and creating a sense of community. dynamic and sustainable membership for the region.

The master planning process is expected to launch in 2023 and will support a robust and inclusive public engagement process, rigorous scientific and user studies, and the purchase of the services of a landscape architecture firm that will listen to the public to enhance the unique urban ecology and create a visionary plan for the next 100 years at New Orleans City Park.

The City Putt Miniature Golf Course is one of the amenities added after Hurricane Katrina. (photo from New Orleans City Park)

Louisa R. Loomis