NEW ORLEANS -- Folks across the Bywater area say they're happy to call the neighborhood home, but something has been missing.
"The only thing I don't like is I cannot walk to the river,” said a neighbor named David. “And from day one, it's irritated me that I live two blocks from the river and I cannot walk to the river."
That will change thanks to a project that has seen many delays over the years, but is finally under construction.
Tuesday, workers were busy planting trees at Crescent Park -- a stretch of land along the riverfront in the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods that will eventually be home to jogging and cycling paths, picnic areas and even a dog run.
The park will be accessible by two pedestrian bridges, one at Piety Street and another at Mandeville.
For neighbors we talked with Tuesday, it's a welcome sight.
"When I used to walk over there sometimes, it would just be empty wharfs with holes in the docks and it was dangerous," said Chris Rudge, owner of nearby Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits.
Now, however, Rudge envisions a boost for the Bywater neighborhood and ultimately, his business.
"It'll give people more places to hang out, picnic, play sports, be outside, enjoy the river, and for a business like ours, that can do nothing but good, and I think for the entire neighborhood in general, nothing but good," he said.
City officials said phase one of the project is now 85 percent complete.
The areas near Piety are furthest along, while construction has yet to begin on the Mandeville Street crossing bridge. That area won’t be open until spring 2014, officials said.
While officials didn’t give a specific opening date for other parts of the park, they said they hope it will happen “as soon as possible.”