by Kevin Allman
Comiskey Park and Playground — once a neighborhood landmark, but a blight on a tough corner of Mid-City since Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods — was reopened today by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The park had received national attention in 2007 when a production company planned to remake the park and document the effort in a reality TV/documentary show titled ReNewOrleans. Plans foundered, and the park space — one block off a gritty stretch of Tulane Avenue — sat for years in worse shape than before.
"They left a lot of things behind," Landrieu said. "Cost everybody a bucketful of money."
The money to renovate (just under $850,000, according to figures provided by the Landrieu administration) repaired infrastructure at the one-square-block lot and allowed for new grass to be planted. The new park also has a baseball diamond, basketball courts, a rec center, swings, a play spot and green space.
On hand were City Council President Jackie Clarkson; New Orleans Recreation Department director Vic Richard; deputy mayor Cedric Grant; Pat Forbes, executive director of the state Office of Community Development; Joe Threat, acting executive director of the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office; Matthew Morgan, president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Association; and members of the Comiskey family, including Mathilde Marsh of Ocean Springs, Miss., a great-granddaughter of James E. Comiskey, the park's namesake. Marsh and some other children dutifully climed on a play structure for the assembled press.
"Mayor Lan-DRIEU! Take a slide!" yelled one of the volunteer counselors.
"I'm gonna get on that slide," Landrieu promised him, cutting a red ribbon on a purple-and-gold play structure. A minute later, the mayor took a ceremonial trip down the slide and posed for pictures with children.