Throw Me Somethin’: City Park tapped for certification _lowres

Photo provided by Longue Vue House & Gardens - The mansion and grounds at Longue Vue will be the venue for a dining series this year.

Today is Earth Day, a perfect time to talk about New Orleans’ largest swath of public, recreational land: City Park.

This month, the park’s Festival Grounds were picked for certification by the national Sustainable Sites Initiative. SITES is a program that recognizes and promotes sustainable landscape planning, design, construction and maintenance efforts that can benefit the environment and local and regional communities and economies. The program is led by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the United States Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The 50-acre Festival Grounds, once part of a golf course along Wisner Boulevard between the New Orleans Museum of Art and Interstate 610, received one out of four stars based on 51 potential credits, with points awarded for initial site selection, water, soil, vegetation, materials, human health and well-being, construction and maintenance.

“We are pleased to be among those taking a lead in applying the SITES rating system to enhance the environmental, social and economic aspects of our projects,” said Meg Adams, City Park construction manager.

The Festival Grounds includes mature oaks and cypress trees, a Reunion Shelter with 64 solar panels on its roof, four athletic fields, a 1-mile walking/biking path, a playground and an exercise station with interactive machines for adults and children.

The grounds also include 2 acres of constructed wetlands with native plants and a boardwalk. The area has become a spot for local festivals, including the Voodoo Music Experience, the New Orleans Seafood Festival and Hogs for the Cause.

SITES project team members included Meg Adams and Linzey Powers from City Park, Torre Design Consortium, Dana Brown and Associates and Cobalt Construction.

Another park perk

The park recently created a new entrance to Couturie Forest by installing a 100-foot pedestrian bridge over a lagoon at 1900 Harrison Ave., near the Volunteer Center and new parking lot.

Couturie Forest is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during daylight saving time. Vehicles should be removed from the lot by closing time because the gates will be locked.

Combined with Scout Island, Couturie Forest is a 60-acre site filled with native trees, scenic waterways and wildlife. Trails offer ways to exercise while enjoying the park’s rich, natural landscape.

Costing more than $270,000, the bridge was paid for by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program through the Louisiana Office of State Parks. Matching funds were provided by the park and Friends of City Park.

Planned improvements to the area include bike parking and a bike repair station also sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program. The gravel parking lot will be paved and will include a water fountain and an informational kiosk provided by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Transportation Alternatives Program.

With continued donations and volunteer help, upcoming improvements will create the Harrison Avenue Trailhead, connecting Harrison Avenue and Wisner Boulevard bike lanes with a multiuse path on Marconi Avenue. For information, visit www.neworleanscitypark.com.

Algiers courthouse self-defense class

E. “Teena” Anderson-Trahan, judge with Second City Court in Algiers, and Edwin M. Shorty Jr., of the Constable’s Office, will host a basic self defense and awareness class at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 25, at the courthouse, 225 Morgan St.

Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. and participants should wear casual or workout attire and are encouraged to bring a yoga mat, if they have one. Ten contact moves and the use of nonlethal weapons will be demonstrated. For information, contact law clerk Danielle Barringer at (504) 407-0432 or dbarringer@orleanscdc.com.

Gardening for toddlers

Children 18 months to 5 years old, accompanied by an adult, are invited to gather for Kinder Garden from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Longue Vue House and Gardens, 7 Bamboo Road. The children will learn about nature through plantings, digging for worms and crafts in the Lucy C. Roussel Discovery Garden.

The event will not be held if it is raining, and advance registration is required. Cost is $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers and covers one child and one adult. Siblings and extra adults will pay $5. For information, contact Lydia Vaughn at (504) 293.4722 or lvaughn@longuevue.com or visit www.longuevue.com.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at jensencolumn@gmail.com.