In the wake of widespread opposition to a since-scuttled plan to build a soccer complex on the riverfront section of Audubon Park, the Audubon Commission is rolling out a plan that would require more public input before significant areas of green space under its control could be converted to other uses.
The proposal, expected to be voted on by the commission at a meeting Thursday, would require the commission to hold a public meeting 30 days before acting on any proposed developments that would eliminate more than 1 acre of green space. It also requires efforts to notify the public and city officials about such proposals.
The Audubon Commission, a city agency, acts as landlord for Audubon Park and other facilities that are operated by the nonprofit Audubon Nature Institute. Ron Forman is the CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute.
The suggested change in policy comes after the Carrollton Boosters’ proposal to build a soccer complex on “The Fly” ran into strong opposition from residents who said it amounted to privatizing one of the few areas of open space left near the riverfront. The project was to be built with $4 million in donations.
The resolution being considered by the Audubon Commission seems tailored to quelling concerns raised during that controversy.
Among the complaints of opponents of the project was that the vote authorizing it had occurred with little public notice, leaving most residents in the dark and unable to raise concerns until officials were preparing to break ground.
Similar complaints have been raised about past projects in Audubon Park, such as renovation of the golf course and construction of new meeting facilities.
The proposed resolution requires the commission to set up a public meeting a month before any vote that would result in the elimination of an acre or more of open space in Audubon Park, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Wilderness Park on the West Bank or the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center in New Orleans East.
It also would require notifying members of the City Council and the administration, issuing news releases and publicizing documents related to the proposed project two weeks before that public meeting.
“We have heard the concerns of the community loud and clear,” Audubon Commission President J. Kelly Duncan said. “This commission pledges to keep the public more informed about our plans to improve and maintain our treasured park space and to listen and seek input before any action is taken.”
The commission will discuss the resolution at a meeting at 4 p.m. at the Audubon Tea Room.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 28, 2015 to correct Ron Forman’s title and correct an error in Kelly Duncan’s name.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.