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Mayor Mitch Touts Rec Renewal
by Megan Pearl
Along with a new ad, Mayor Mitch and other city officials gathered for another end-of-year press conference on Thursday. Never one to shy away from a slide, da Mayor gathered city officials corporate sponsor representatives and a few strategically placed children to speak about the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission's programs and funding.
“It’s about investing in meaningful opportunities for our youth,” Landrieu said. “Bring people together and get things done.”
City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, a perennial rec department champion who is also running for a seat in the February elections, said that youth recreation programs such as NORDC are where the city should begin for the prevention of crime. Landrieu said recreation programs are where youth learn to resolve differences peacefully.
NORDC is a citywide program, and Mayor Landrieu said that they intend to reach every part of New Orleans.
According to the City, the 2014 budget adds about $1 million to NORDC's coffers. That comes two years after Mayor Mitch doubled the commission's budget. The City is also using a $65 million bond issuance for new streets and NORDC facilities, according to figures released by the mayor's office.
For example, Tremé received $5.6 million renovation for a gym, pool, and locker room. St. Roch built a new playground. Pontchartrain Park received a new scoreboard for the football field and repairs to the high mast lighting on playing fields.
“There is no neighborhood that has been or will be left behind,” Landrieu said.
Algiers is the last neighborhood to benefit from the program. Clarkson said that's not because of its location across the river, but because damage from Hurricane Katrina was not as severe as the rest of the city that was flooded. Projects such as a soccer stadium this year will begin in the West Bank neighborhood this year.
Chevron representative Sakari Morrison said the energy company is committed to the endeavor and happy to be part of the team. Chevron underwrote a strategic five-year plan to make NORDC a nationally accredited program by 2016. The Pelicans and Red Cross are also sponsors of the program.
Landrieu said they hope to make NORDC a model recreation program for America.
NORDC has summer camps for youth, and Landrieu said 900 teens participated in this past teen summer program where they receive career mentoring and have opportunities to make money. Furthermore, 57,000 nutritious meals were served during the summer programs.
NORDC programs are not just for young people. According to Landrieu, 5,400 people of all ages utilized the program for swimming lessons this past summer. Landrieu said he believes it’s important that every child learns to swim.
NORDC funds programs and also rebuilds infrastructure such as gyms, playgrounds, fields, concession stands, locker rooms, etc. A goal of the program is to build proper infrastructure for every neighborhood to have a good recreation program. This year, they are also moving the committee into a headquarters, whereas the committee was spread throughout the city in previous years.
NORDC CEO Vic Richard said the infrastructure management alone costs $144 million.
Richard said the city improvements come from a conscious decision made by the citizens and commitment from the administration.
“Let’s continue what we’ve begun,” Richard said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
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