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Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- On a clear Memorial Day weekend, it doesn't take much to bring families out to City Park, including the extended Scott family, who were celebrating their annual reunion.

'[It's] always in City Park. Always,' said Trina Brown.

'We're enjoying ourselves out here,' said Calvin Brown. 'We're barbecuing, we're cooking.'

City Park's 1,300 acres constitute one of the largest urban parks in the country -- one that operates mostly on revenue it generates for itself, making up about 80 percent of its budget. However, an act that just passed in the state legislature could boost the park's coffers.

'Every dollar that we generate here, that can come back to us, that's our goal,' said City Park Executive Director Bob Becker.

The act, which was introduced by state Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, as House Bill 335, creates a tax increment financing (TIF) district for City Park.

'It allows us to recapture a portion of the sales tax that occurs from events that are generated here,' Becker said. 'And this was an effort by the state and the city to help the park generate, find ways to generate additional revenue, since we get very little public funding for the park.'

The park already gets city sales tax dollars back -- as much as $500,000 a year. The new act would now include state sales tax dollars. The idea is to be able use those collected state tax funds and reinvest them into City Park's infrastructure.

'We have a tremendous water infrastructure here that we have to repair and keep up, so it generates capital money that we couldn't raise otherwise and don't get otherwise,' Becker said.

People at the park said they see places where the money could be used.

'I think it's a little outdated. It can definitely use new things,' said Miles Garners. 'Probably a little more grass out here, as opposed to all the dirt -- maybe some more pavilions, not just random picnic tables everywhere.'

The park's current master plan aims to improve it nearly seven years after Hurricane Katrina flooded it. The goal is have that work completed before the city's tricentennial in 2018.

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