NEW ORLEANS -- Since it's opening in 2003, the NOMA Sculpture Garden has been one of the most popular attractions in the City.

"This is a beloved part of the park, it's a garden within the park," Anne Banos, NOMA Deputy Director said

Now, it's planned to double in size with a 6-acre expansion in 2018.

"There are 22 pieces slated to go into the garden," Banos said.

The 15 million dollar expansion will include sculptures, an amphitheater, walkways and a learning space. It will go in the now open lagoon area behind the museum, but some frequent visitors are surprised by the expansion.

"Primary concern is that the area is open and readily to the public right now, and this essentially restricts it," Jenel Hazlett said.

Hazlett is a member of City Park for Everyone, a community group. She says the fence and potential impacts to wildlife are big concerns.

"They won't have the lagoon but they will have trees during the construction, the construction is landscaping so it should be minimal," Banos said.

Banos says engineers have consulted with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to make it is all sustainable.

"We are extremely sensitive to City Park and to being part of this park," Banos said.

But still concerned citizens say the public has never been given a chance to actual give input.

"We've been talking about an expansion since 2005 it was part of City Park's master plan and then we did make an announcement in 2014," Banos explained.

She points out that even recent park maps show there's a planned expansion. That's been around for at least a year, but Hazlett says engagement is different.

"Other than knowing that that particular area has been essentially zoned for quite some time, no one had any details," Hazlett said.

NOMA says it has taken a long time to reach their goal to begin building. And say they are not leaving the public out. They plan to invite everyone to a talk in January.

"We're really excited about this project, we think it's a terrific project, we're in the very very early stages and we look forward to sharing more about it with the people as it progresses," Banos said.

The project is expected to leave be completed by late 2018. Eyewitness News will continue to follow this project and keep you updated as more details become available.