Concerned about frequent instances of vandalism at the site of a new $25 million golf course, the New Orleans City Park board of commissioners is considering building a permanent fence or landscaped barrier around the facility, set to open in February.
The 18-hole, championship-level course has a 250-acre footprint bordered by Filmore Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Marconi Drive and Wisner Boulevard.
It incorporates portions of the park’s former East and West golf courses, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and features historic oak trees and existing lagoons. It will have a new clubhouse.
The golf course already has a barrier on its south side. Board members said they are considering adding fencing or bioswales to the other borders in an attempt to prevent the trespassing and vandalism that have been occurring at the construction site for more than a year.
Last year, two men on separate occasions climbed oak trees to protest the new course’s construction. And park officials have reported other instances of trespassing and vandalism — including people riding their motorbikes through the site, according to Commissioner Edmund Schrenk.
“I think we need to be confident that whatever we do will deter some vandalism,” Schrenk said.
City Park CEO Bob Becker said the administration wants to find an unobtrusive way of keeping vandals out.
“It’s an inherent risk when you have a golf course,” he said. “Just like when you have a public building, there’s an inherent risk of graffiti.”
The protesters weren’t the only ones to object to the new golf course. Last year, a nonprofit group called the City Park for Everyone Coalition brought a federal suit against City Park and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the construction.
At its peak, revenue from golf made up about 40 percent of the entire operating budget of the park, officials said. The first golf course in City Park opened in 1901, and before Katrina the park had four courses and a driving range.
Since then, the park has reduced its golf acreage from more than 500 acres to about 340, cutting back from four courses to two, but it still looks to the new course as a major money-making asset, officials said. They said only 15 percent of the park’s operating budget comes from the state, and the park receives no revenue from the city.
Designed by renowned golf course architect Rees Jones, the new course will accommodate players of all skill levels.