NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City and State officials and FEMA celebrated the opening of the new $8.5 million Rosenwald Center at 1120 South Broad Street in the B.W. Cooper neighborhood. This New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) recreation center replaces the previous facility that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Construction on the $1.8 million outdoor Rosenwald Pool and Pool House will begin next month and open next summer.
The Rosenwald Center is the third new NORDC recreation center to open this year. Over the summer, the City and NORDC celebrated the openings of the Sanchez Center at 1616 Caffin Street in the Lower Ninth Ward and the Stallings St. Claude Center at 4300 St. Claude Avenue in the Bywater.
“Today, we celebrate another sign of renewal and reinvestment with the reopening of the Rosenwald Center in the B.W. Cooper neighborhood,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Once again, our young people have a safe place to grow, learn and play and I encourage New Orleanians of all ages to take advantage of it and all the valuable resources it will offer. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina brought New Orleans to its knees but today we are standing taller than ever. This project is a symbol that we are building back better than before.”
Since Mayor Landrieu took office in 2010, the City has invested over $157 million in new and improved NORDC facilities and nearly tripled its programming budget. In 2010, about 500 young people learned to swim at eight NORDC pools but this year nearly 4,000 learned at fifteen pools. Also in 2010, only 1,600 children participated in four NORDC summer camps but as of this summer, 5,100 children participated at 49 youth and teen camps across New Orleans. In 2010, New Orleans only had four NORDC recreation centers open to the public. Today, there are ten.
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U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond said, “Community development starts with making significant investments in projects that will enrich our neighborhoods. The new Rosenwald Center is a state-of-the-art facility where members of the community can come together, to learn a new skill or simply for fellowship. Every dollar spent improving our city with projects like this brings us closer together and makes us a better New Orleans.”
The original Rosenwald Center was built in 1950 and at the time was New Orleans’ only major recreation center to serve African American youth. The center is named for philanthropist, community leader and civil rights activist Edith Rosenwald Stern.
The new $8.5 million Rosenwald Center is a two-story, 15,580 square-foot community center for the B.W. Cooper neighborhood. It replaces the former community center that was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and demolished in 2013. Amenities at the new Rosenwald Center include an indoor basketball court and stage; weight room; activity rooms for dancing, music, pottery, arts and sewing; snack bar; public meeting rooms and a multi-purpose sports field. Additional features include energy-efficient lighting and lighting sensors throughout the facility to reduce energy costs and unnecessary light usage during daylight hours and a high-efficiency HVAC system.
Vic Richard, CEO of NORDC, said, “Our responsibility is to continue to foster and enhance the mental, physical, social well-being of all of our citizens…this investment is another example and opportunity for us to continue to make our New Orleans the place it deserves to become. Our goal is to build the best recreation department in the nation and the new Rosenwald Center will help us achieve that goal.”
NORD Commission Chairman Roy Glapion said, “For the third time in recent months, through collaboration at every level of government and the private sector, a new NORDC recreation center will serve a community that was devastated ten years ago. The Rosenwald Center is symbolic of our shared commitment to build a better New Orleans together, and its long-awaited opening offers new opportunities for the growth of volunteerism and community engagement for the NORD Commission.”
The new Rosenwald Center is the result of the continued success of the public-private partnership between the City of New Orleans, NORD Commission and NORD Foundation.
NORD Foundation Chairman John Sibal said, “The reopening of Rosenwald Center is very important to me personally. In 1991, when I was a member of the Young Leadership Council (YLC), along with the African-American Professional Alliance and the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, we created ‘Recreate New Orleans’ which ran a basketball and mentoring program for boys and girls on Saturday mornings, right up until Hurricane Katrina destroyed the gym. I am thrilled to see the new facility, which is bigger and better than it ever was before. The NORD Foundation is pleased to have made available $64,821 for the fixtures, furnishings and equipment in the building, which is the third center that we have outfitted this year. This amount includes $36,000 from a 2004 NFL/LISC grant for Rosenwald which the NORD Foundation was able to access from Friends of NORD, which I thank for being a great steward of those funds until they could be used. I also thank our NORD Foundation donors, including First NBC Bank, Tom Moran, who is the Chairman of Mutual of America, and members of the NORD Foundation Board of Directors. We are continuing to raise funds for additional equipment at Rosenwald, and we invite members of the community to contribute to the NORD Foundation via the NORDC website so that Rosenwald has all the equipment and programming the neighborhood needs.”
Funding and Construction
Funding for the $8.5 million Rosenwald Center comes from FEMA public assistance, Insurance, and City Bond funds. The new Rosenwald Center was designed and constructed by local firms WDG, LLC and Gibbs Construction. Local DBE firms worked on the new Rosenwald Center including: McCorkle & Sons Tile, McCorkle Steel, A-Cubed, Baker Concrete, Ace Fence & Gate, Leaaf Environmental, CCR Fire Protection, CMC Drywall, and Argio Roofing & Construction.
Cedric Grant, Executive Director of Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, said, “The new, state-of-the-art Rosenwald Center is another major step forward for NORDC. This recreation center was designed and built to meet this community’s needs and give our young people a safe and healthy place. By working with the community, we have created a new and improved space that will positively impact the lives of all those that enter its doors.”
Ronnie Fairley, FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Task Force Leader, said, “We congratulate the City of New Orleans on the opening of the new Rosenwald Center, a facility that has provided recreational space to community members for decades. FEMA is proud of its role in the recovery efforts and remains committed to working with our state and local partners to build back a stronger, more resilient city.”