In a WWLTV interview January 19, 2010, Children’s Hospital Vice President of Marketing Brian Landry is quoted as saying “What we're talking about is land that's adjacent to this campus that's always been zoned for medical services. The initial master plan was always to develop that site.”
This mysterious Master Plan to which Mr Landry refers is certainly not the Master Plan developed by the Audubon Institute under public pressure between 2000 and 2004, shown on this site's home page, and not the new city Master Plan that has been in development with extensive public input since 2005, shown here. The land use and zoning map pictured here, dated January 6, 2010, is the Master Plan and Zoning map that the New Orleans City Planning Commission approved on Jan 26, 2010, after almost 2 years of work and a $2 million investment. On this map, it shows the land correctly zoned as park, appropriate both to its historical use and its ownership by the city's Audubon Park Commission since 1949.
While the land is zoned 'medical service' on the existing zoning maps (which date from the '70's), it has never been used for anything but park since the Mengel lumber yard that used to occupy that site was liquidated in the 1930's, and the land was purchased for the park in 1949, before there was any children's hospital at all. The 'medical service' zoning in the 1970's may have been in error, or it may simply have been due to the presence of the old US Naval Hospital (that eventually became NOAH after the US government gave the property to the state of LA in 1981), and the Crippled Children's Hospital, which opened in 1955 and became Children's Hospital in 1976.
At the January 20, 2010 public meeting, many residents were surprised at the lack of substantive details about the proposed expansion plans offered by either the Children's Hospital representatives or the Audubon Commission representatives who were present. The cynical among us might suggest that it was only when someone belatedly realized that the park property in question was on the verge of being rezoned from "medical services" to "park and open space", that they basically threw together this clearly-not-well-developed proposal in an attempt to beat the implementation timeframe of the city's new Master Plan.