(Sent to NORD and City Council)
To whom it may concern:
I am writing concerning the online debate by those in favor of single-use of the park only for Homer A. Plessy students when they take over the McDonogh 15 school on St. Philip.
I am very pleased that Homer A. Plessy School is coming to the Quarter as our next charter and cannot think of a better fit, due to the historic name attached to it, the goals of the school and the engaged parents, some of whom I know personally. I sincerely wish this to be a great success so that is also why I am against cordoning off Cabrini Park entirely, held only for the school’s use for a few hours per week. That will only create a barrier between the school and the neighborhood.
I live in the French Quarter and and have done so on and off for decades since high school, when I attended L.E. Rabouin and walked through the Quarter and CBD each morning. That daily trip gained me many protectors and friends who would look out for me and greet me as I made my way to Carondelet.
The opportunity to live in a gracious, social city like New Orleans is amazing enough; to be here during one’s formative years is another gift. Children should be able to feel comfortable on their city streets and in their public spaces, not to be cordoned off from them as if all other people (neighbors!) are something to be frightened by. One of the wonderful things about our French Quarter and the little Red Schoolhouse as realized by Lucianne Carmichael is that it allows the children to be members of the neighborhood, as we see in the regular, happy use – by their parents and kids – of the coffeehouse across the street, when they line up to walk down Bourbon to the park or going on field trips to the French Market among other outings. We shouldn’t want any it any different in our public park.
And as someone who uses and has used the few green spaces for decades in the Quarter for play and at one time for my little dog’s exercise, I know how much community happens at the park, sharing notes and meeting new neighbors. For all of these reasons, I ask that the off-leash dog site and public use of Cabrini park be maintained. Not only does the school have 2 play areas of their own, the new park layout allows for multiple uses at once. Every neighborly eye on our park helps to maintain it as a safe and neighborly place; locking the doors will bring the negative activity back; it indicates to those looking for hidden corners to engage in illegal activity that this is an ideal space for that.
The dog park will also allow for a controlled area for our many 4-legged friends. That activity also likely reduces the crime in that area and adds happy playful sounds, sounds that we all sorely need in our stressful life.
Let’s work together to build a world-class park for everyone.