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City Park golf opponents move to stop construction of championship course
Katherine Sayre

A group opposing a new golf course at City Park is asking a federal judge to stop construction at the 250-acre site between Harrison and Filmore avenues.

The City Park for Everyone Coalition, led by plaintiffs Kevin McDunn and Chris Lane, argues the City Park Improvement Association and Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is partially funding the golf course, failed to give the public enough chances to comment on the design for the $24.5 million championship course and golf complex and didn't consider all of the environmental impacts.

The lawsuit says the New Orleans City Park Improvement Association was determined to dedicate a huge chunk of land to golf -- "something that it admits is not particularly profitable in light of the large operating budget City Park has every year."

Among other claims, the lawsuit accuses City Park of failing to disclose that 5.5 acres of Couterie Forest nature area would be cleared out for the golf course when the park's board approved a master plan in 2011. A map in the master plan labeled the acreage as "natural resource area" rather than a golf course.

City Park swings big on golf with sport's popularity in the rough
Katherine Sayre

Hours after a man fell out of a tree in City Park in March, the cypress where he had lived for 11 days in protest was felled, the branches swept away to make room for a new golf course. What that chopped-down tree represents has sparked a debate over the future of City Park, one of the nation's largest urban parks at 1,300 acres.

For park leaders, it's a relatively small sacrifice toward building a financially stable and more attractive public space, while using the game of golf to also fund a socially minded mission of affordable housing and support services at the nearby former St. Bernard project.

But for opponents of the new golf course, it represents a bad investment of public dollars in a declining, elitist sport with fewer players and more courses closing nationwide -- at the expense of an urban haven of natural beauty and wildlife.

Is a $24.5 million championship course and facilities a wise investment as the golf industry struggles? The answer comes down to whether enough tourists, conventioneers and locals want to pay to play.

"We are extremely confident that we'll have a first-rate golf complex that is sized appropriately for the park," said Bob Becker, City Park's CEO, adding the viability of the course has been studied in depth. "No one has an incentive to build a loser," he said. "We strongly believe the golf course to be effective."

The new course is being built between Harrison and Filmore avenues, along Couterie Forest and over the footprint of another flooded course. It will sit across Filmore Avenue from a driving range and the North golf course, which opened in 2008 and will be part of the new complex.

The project is financed through a combination of public and private money: $6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, $9.5 million from the state's capital outlay budget and $8.9 million from the Bayou District Foundation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer contracted to manage the 383-acre golf complex. Its facilities will also include a clubhouse for the championship course. The Bayou District Foundation in turn is partnering with PGA Tour Golf Course Properties to operate the complex.

Bayou District will take a share of golf course profits to pay for its ongoing work redeveloping the former St. Bernard housing project into a mixed-income community known as Columbia Parc.

Meet ‘Lloyd’ Boover and Ian Bowers: Tree-sitters who want nothing more than New Orleans City Park to halt golf course plans
Katy Reckdahl
The New Orleans Advocate

If anyone was going to protest the clearing of trees to make way for a golf course at City Park — and do it by sitting in one of them for days on end — it was Jonathan “Lloyd” Boover.

The Gentilly homeowner is an old hand at sleeping in trees, having initiated the habit a few years back while touring the country on his bicycle. “I needed some air and space in my life and so decided to do it on my bike,” he said, describing an eight-month journey that took him to Washington, D.C., Washington state and down the Pacific Coast Highway.

In treeless territory, he would sleep underneath roadways in metal drainage culverts. But, he said, “Whenever there was a really great tree, I’d climb up with my hammock and mosquito net. It’s the best thing in world, bonding with nature.”

Last month, Boover ended up in a tree for a very different reason, as part of small uprising against City Park’s golf course plans. He spent 12 days there before taking a spill and a trip to the hospital. An ally, identifying himself only as “Beaux,” spent three days in a similar perch last week.

New City Park golf course will greatly benefit New Orleans, says First Tee's Chip Patterson
Trey Iles

Chip Patterson admits he isn't much of a golfer. He'd much rather go camping and enjoy the great outdoors than spend time on the course.

Nevertheless, he is bullish on the new City Park Championship Golf Course that is currently under construction and expected to open either in the fall of 2016 or the first of 2017. As the executive director of The First Tee of Greater New Orleans, Patterson has a first-hand understanding of what this course can do for the underprivileged youth he works with on a daily basis as well as their families.

That's why he's troubled about recent protests, vandalism on the construction site of the course and what he sees as misinformation being propagated in recent weeks by those opposed to the new course.

City Park promises legal action against trespassers trying to block new golf course
Della Hasselle
The New Orleans Advocate

Officials at New Orleans City Park are threatening legal action after a third trespasser climbed a tree at a construction site to protest a new golf course being built on a portion of the park’s Couturie Forest.

The park’s statement Saturday night came two days after a group called the City Park for Everyone Coalition filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to stop work on the course.

On Saturday morning, another group of protesters — identifying themselves with the social media hashtag “Wild Is Free” — said a man named “Beaux” had climbed an oak tree that was supposed to be cut down that day. His action followed that of another man protesting the golf course, Jonathan “Lloyd” Boover, who had to receive medical attention after he fell Tuesday from a tree he had inhabited for more than a week. Boover was initially joined by a woman known as “Heart,” but she voluntarily came down from the tree.

City Park CEO calls latest protest of golf course 'vandalism,' 'trespassing'
Benjamin Alexander-Bloch

New Orleans City Park Chief Executive Officer Bob Becker this weekend called the latest attempt to block construction of a $24.5 million golf complex an "act of vandalism and trespassing."

In response, the City Park for Everyone Coalition, a newly formed nonprofit organization fighting against the complex, called Sunday for "all parties to be respectful to one another."

Another protester occupied a tree in City Park Saturday (March 28) in an attempt halt the ongoing clearing of trees and bushes to prepare for that complex, which includes a new course that opponents say will illegally trample 5.5 acres of wetlands and forest.

City Park issues statement as another person climbs up tree to protest new golf course
Juan Sanchez

A new person has taken to a tree in an area of City Park this weekend to protest a new golf course being constructed.

A group of people known as "Wild is Free" issued a statement, which said a man known as "Beaux" had climb up an oak tree which was supposed to be cut down Saturday. Beaux and the group are protesting the new $24.5 million public golf course. Protesters want the area preserved as a green space. It was the former footprint of a portion of the City Park Golf Complex, but it flooded during Hurricane Katrina and has been uninhabited since.

Second protester occupies tree in attempt to halt City Park golf project
Ben Myers

Another protester occupied a tree in City Park on Saturday (March 28) in an attempt to block construction of a $24.5 million golf complex, including a new course that opponents say will illegally trample 5.5 acres of protected wetlands and forest.

"Beaux" climbed the largest remaining oak tree within the construction site Saturday, according to the Facebook page for the City Park for Everyone Coalition, a newly formed nonprofit organization. The latest occupation came four days after the end of Jonathan "Lloyd" Boover's 12-day occupation of a different tree within the construction zone. Boover fell from the tree Tuesday and was booked on charges of criminal trespassing and resisting an officer.

Activist in City Park New Orleans falls from tree, gets medical attention; officials: case now handled by law enforcement
The Advocate

An activist protesting the development plans in City Park reportedly fell out of a tree Tuesday and was picked up by an ambulance.

"City Park appreciates the work of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office in bringing the situation involving Jonathan Lloyd Boover to a resolution safely. We also appreciate the efforts of the New Orleans Fire Department and other local agencies in rendering first-aid assistance to Mr. Boover earlier today," City Park said in a statement. "From the beginning of this incident, our interest has been for Mr. Boover’s safety, who trespassed on an active construction site and endangered himself by remaining in a tree for more than a week."

The statement continued and said "an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Boover March 18. The Sheriff’s Office offered Mr. Boover an opportunity to leave the tree on Tuesday, March 17 by 3 p.m., without facing criminal charges. Mr. Boover refused and his case will now be handled by the local law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office."

Tensions Flare Over New Orleans City Park Golf Course
Jason Saul

Update, March 28, 2015: Another protestor, calling himself Beaux, is said to have climbed a tree in the area of City Park being cleared for the construction of a new golf course. This is the same area of the park in which a man occupied a tree for 12 days. According to an update posted to the City Park for Everyone Coalition's Facebook page, Beaux says workers in the Park discovered him in the tree, and police are on the scene. Climbing apparatus and a construction vehicle clearing brush can be seen in a 5-minute clip posted to a cell phone video sharing site under the hashtag #WildIsFree. A large banner hangs from the tree alongside food, water and what appears to be a hammock.

A protest over the reconstruction of a New Orleans City Park golf course entered a new stage Thursday, with the filing of a federal lawsuit against the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the agency that runs the Park.

Organizers, loosely collected under an umbrella organization calling itself the City Park for Everyone Coalition, have called news conferences, flown drones over the construction areas, and packed a Park board meeting with protesters. Members of the coalition are furious at what they see as the destruction of public wild space in exchange for a rarefied, exclusionary sport.

In a memorable instance of civil disobedience, a man and woman climbed a tree slated for destruction and lived in it for days. The woman, calling herself “Heart,” left the cypress after a long weekend, but Jonathan “Lloyd” Boover remained in the branches for nearly two weeks.

City Park coalition files lawsuit to halt golf course construction
Jonathan Bullington

Opponents of a golf course proposal in New Orleans City Park have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt construction of the multi-million-dollar complex. The lawsuit, filed Thursday morning (March 26, 2015) by the group City Park for Everyone Coalition and members Kevin McDunn and Christopher Lane, claims the New Orleans City Park Improvement Association and Federal Emergency Management Agency violated state and federal laws by failing to properly assess the impacts of a construction project that will destroy "unique and rare" undeveloped wetlands on the park's grounds.

City Park Coalition Lawsuit

Group to file lawsuit to stop new City Park golf course
Wynton Yates

NEW ORLEANS -- The construction of the new City Park golf course continues to be under fire as a local coalition files a federal lawsuit against City Park and FEMA.

The City Park for Everyone Coalition is asking the court to order an injunction that ceases construction of the $13 million golf course. The group claims that City Park and FEMA are going to be illegally building on top of protected urban wetlands.

Justice of the Trees: Group to File Suit Against City Park Golf Course

After letters to the editor, public meetings, and protestors in trees, the controversy over the new gold course in City Park is heading to the courts. Anti-course activists, the City Park for Everyone Coalition (CPEC) issued a release announcing their intention to seek an injunction halting construction on Thursday (3.26) morning.

Represented by Galen Hair of Varadi, Hair & Checki, the CPEC says that they will file suit against Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the City Park Improvement Association (CPMIA) in the Eastern District of Louisiana, at 8:30a.m.

Tree where City Park golf course protester lived for 11 days cut down, group says
Heather Nolan

Opponents of a planned golf course at City Park say the tree a protester lived in for 11 days -- and fell out of Tuesday -- has been cut down.

The tree that had been occupied by Jonathan "Lloyd" Boover was removed shortly after dozens of people expressed opposition to the golf course project, members of City Park for Everyone Coalition said. Boover was injured when he fell out of the tree near the Harrison Avenue traffic circle earlier in the day.

Just before the tree was torn down, more than 20 people spoke against the planned $24.5 million golf complex during the park's Board of Commissioners regular meeting. They reiterated concerns that the city is losing a natural space that is free and open to everyone, and the impact the development would have on wildlife that have settled in the area.

New Orleans Locals Fight to Keep City Park “Wild and Free”
Bryan Kael

Via Lauren Rae Sullivan, local activist in New Orleans- March 17th, 2015

A nearly century old, healthy oak tree was cut down today in City Park so golfers can have a better shot at a hole… Many more trees will be cut in the coming weeks. The park also built an enclosure fence around the tree occupied by the protesters so supply deliveries can’t be made and when they finally come down, they can be arrested.

Mature trees contribute much more to the park and the city as a whole than a new golf course that only serves a small number of people and is highly likely to fail. More golf courses are being closed than opened today in America. Even the current New Orleans-area championship golf course took a multimillion dollar “bailout” from the state a few years ago. New Orleans City Park needs to stop gambling on the future of our public land with environmentally and financially unsustainable projects. There are plenty of private and public courses in the city. There is not, however, plenty of large parks with trees, ponds, and wildlife. A oak tree offers many valuable services to our city, some that can be quantified (flood abatement, air quality improvement) and some that cannot (tranquility and peace), with no need to spend millions on maintenance.

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