Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lafitte Corridor (New Orleans) The annual hike 2012

     On a breezy, sunny spring morning clusters of hikers in the annual hike of the Lafitte Corridor left the campus of Delgado Community College and headed down the derelict railroad right-of-way toward Congo Square on what might be the last annual hike on the weedy, litter-strewn abandoned corridor in its current, sad shape.
    Mark Venczel, president of the Friends of Lafitte Corridor (FOLC), told the group of about 125 that he expects a ground breaking for construction of the greenway to begin either late this year (2012) or early next year.
     When complete, a paved trail will stretch 3.1 miles from Canal Blvd. to Basin St. near the French Quarter. (Maybe.  There is still an issue about right-of-way along .7 of a mile of still-active railroad stretching from Canal Blvd.)
      Plans for what a skinny park flanking the path will contain have not yet been finalized.  There is one more public meeting to be held with the greenway's planners to discuss amenities for the park.  A date for that meeting has not yet been set.
     Hikers will see a big change in the scenery on this year's hike over previous hikes.  Where the trail crosses N. Carrollton Ave. construction has begun on a small shopping center set to have a Winn-Dixie grocery store, pet store, Office Depot and several food outlets.  Demolition is almost complete of a car dealership has has been vacant since hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Trail users will have access to the shopping center from the trail when both are complete.
     Also as hikers approach the Jefferson Davis Bike Path they can see the work now being done to renovate the former Mercy Hospital (Lindy Boggs Memorial), now underway in earnest.
     Volunteers from Bikeeasy provided a secure parking area for bicycles and New Orleans Council member Susan Guidry told the crowd that the corridor was a "top priority" for her.
   Leading a group of hikers was Bart Everson, who, along with several others, began the hikes of the corridor in 2004.  Everson, who handed over the FOLC presidency to Venczel this January told the group that the "moment was a bittersweet time," adding that he was happy to see the future of the Lafitte Corridor is in the hands of such an enthusiastic and capable FOLC board.

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