Sarah Olivier is a program manager for the Trust for Public Land.
"There was about a 17-acre parcel of land that the city had sold ... to a movie production company. This is the large tract of land that runs from Claiborne (Avenue) almost to Sojourner Truth Community Center. It's a pretty big chunk of land and the city had sold it to this production company, LIFT, and [the company] ran into difficulties and went into bankruptcy and the city realized, 'Oh, there's all this contiguous land, let's think about a greenway.' The city realized that that parcel wasn't in their control anymore, so Trust for Public Land negotiated through the whole bankruptcy procedure to kind of reacquire that land on behalf of the city.
"We are a 42-year-old national nonprofit and we do a lot of land conservation on a big scale — many, many acres of wild land. The goal for Trust for Public Land is to conserve land for people to enjoy. ... In New Orleans we worked on the [Zemurray Trail] in City Park, in the front of the museum. And then we put in a fitness center adjacent to it with outdoor exercise equipment. We work really closely with public partners. We don't hold land. We don't manage land. We always work to increase the capacity and aid our city partners. ...
"I really do believe that public space, and especially something like a greenway, because it touches so many people, it transverses such a wide swath of communities, that it really can be transformational. It can give people access to green space that they didn't know they had. This land has been sitting there, but it hasn't been activated. It hasn't been designed for people to use it, and I think it can transform the way people see their neighborhoods, the way people see their city.
"Greenways are very successful, innovative ways of giving people park access. They're nontraditional; it's not a big chunk of land like a City Park or an Audubon. But we find that little bits of green space can have a huge impact on people's public health. The Greenway will be a new way of transportation, people can get to work in the French Quarter on bicycles. ... It can really transform a community."
New Orleanians talk about the Lafitte Greenway
• Sarah Olivier, program manager for the Trust for Public Land