Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - For the O'Malley family, City Park is a gem they come to every week. And it's improving before their eyes.
"Every time we come here we see a new project," said Mike O'Malley. "Something new is going on and you see more and more people more and more families."
And indeed, it's an exciting time for City Park. A massive master plan is scheduled will revamp the park by 2018.
The latest improvements to break ground will be two 18-hole mini golf courses across from Storyland. Construction is scheduled to begin in a few weeks and be complete in March of 2013. One will have a New Orleans theme; the other will be themed "Taste of Louisiana."
"I think most people if you think of mini golf... you get a smile on your face," said City Park's chief development officer, John Hopper.
But that's not all. An architect is drawing up plans for a splash park, which should be bid out for construction in the coming months. The state legislature allocated $5 million for planning and construction.
The legislature also allocated $2 million to improve the amusement park's infrastructure. New festival grounds are underway. And the tennis courts will see improvements as well.
Hopper said one of the most anxiously awaited projects is the new golf course.
"It's an oft asked question," said Hopper. "When is the other golf course coming back?"
Hopper said City Park officials are still drawing up plans and working to fund raise for the $26 million golf course, which would combine two that have been closed since Katrina. The state legislature has allocated $10 million to help bring back the course and golfers can't wait.
"Taking all that land and making one big course would be fabulous. I think we need it and I think we should do it as soon as we can," said amateur golfer Victor Farrugia. "We live in Lakeview. We would give up our membership at another club and just play here so it would be great."
"THE ONLY other time in the park's more than 150 year history that you've seen this much work going on was during the Works Progress Administration [in the 1930s and 1940s] after the Depression," said Hopper.
"We are not just making hurricane repairs in the park, we are building a vastly improved park," said Hopper. We are the largest recreational area for the entire metro area and so we want to give our citizens the best park in the country, hands down."
City park, which raises 85 percent of it's operating budget, is relying largely on fundraising to make it's master plan a reality. But, in all, the state legislature has also allocated more than $17 million for improvements through capitol outlay funds. The bond commission would have to approve before the park would be able to use the money.
Those like the O'Malleys believe all the improvements are another sign a major entity in New Orleans is on the upswing.
"I think it's a great time for City Park," said O'Malley. "They're growing, and I think it's going to be fantastic."