Railroad Park Project - Downtown Hammond

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Overview

The Hammond Downtown Development District has begun the reimagining and reinvigorating of the public space at #2 W. Thomas St. The newly named “Railroad Park,” will break ground in early fall. The DDD plans to bring new life to the park, in an effort to beautify the space and highlight its history.  

The park, designed by Dufreche & Associates, will boast a barrier-free design that features: shade, seating, traffic-calming measures, protection from the nearby train tracks and vehicular traffic, opportunities for art, a performance stage, and more. Visual exhibits on the history of Hammond, the Railroad and the Cate Family are planned in the design. Public restrooms will also be incorporated into the current DDD office, designed by Pistorius and Associates.

The current site is home to historic live oak trees, the Stewart monument, the DDD office, and the Hammond Farmers Market. The DDD plans to renew this space without compromising its history or the health of the beloved live oak trees. A contract with Bayou Tree Service has been signed for oversight and protection of the live oak trees.

To fund this project, the DDD will use both a $300,000 bond (acquired in 2018) and a brick-selling campaign. Families and businesses will have the opportunity to purchase bricks later this year. The DDD is also seeking corporate sponsors to partner on art and history exhibits.

“Downtown Hammond is known for being national trendsetters when it comes to mixed-use buildings and public spaces,” says Chelsea Tallo Little, DDD Executive Director. “We intend for this space to also be ahead of the national curve, as it will both serve the public’s logistical needs and cultivate a sense of community.”

The public space at #2 W. Thomas St. has been a desired project of the Downtown Development District since 1998. It has been labeled as Downtown Hammond’s “city center” throughout multiple Master Plan updates. John Desmond, renown mid-century modern architect, (who designed the building that is now the DDD office) originally envisioned this space as a public park. This property was donated by the Cate Estate to the City of Hammond, with the intention for it to always remain as a public space.

“Downtown Hammond is a happening place, and the center of our district should reflect that,” says Tallo Little. “The end goal is to provide community members with a clean, open space that proudly welcomes all visitors.”

Construction is set to begin in early fall.

Public Input Opportunities

  • Current public input sessions will involve reviewing the preliminary plans for the park.  
    • Online survey: Click Here 
    • 4/1 9am Design Committee Meeting at the City Council Chambers  
    • 4/3 8am-12pm Public Session at the Hammond Farmers Market 
    • 4/10 8am-12pm Public Session at the Hammond Farmers Market 
    • 4/12 5:30 - 6:30pm Public Session at the City Council Chambers 

    To begin this project, the DDD gathered public input on the possibilities for this space. A total of five in-person public input opportunities were scheduled over a period of two weeks. A free online survey was also published during that time. The results of those public comment opportunities, as well as procedures, are listed in the Public Comment Report 

    History

    The public green space located at #2 W. Thomas St. has been a desired project of the Downtown Development District since 1998. This space has been labeled as Downtown’s city center throughout multiple DDD Master Plan updates. John Desmond, renown mid-century modern architect who designed the building that is now the DDD office, originally envisioned this space as a public park. With this in mind, the DDD plans to bring new life to this space in 2021 -- making an effort to highlight its history while renovating the hardscape. 

    This property was donated by the Cate Estate to the City of Hammond with an intention of it always to remain a usable space for the public.  It is home to historic live oak trees, the Stewart monument, the DDD office, and the Hammond Farmers Market. 

    In 2018, the Hammond Downtown Development District took out a bond for $300,000 to construct a pavilion on-site and renovate the area. The construction of a pavilion within the district is also a long-standing goal for the DDD, dating back to the 1998 Master Plan. After much deliberation, however, it was decided that a permanent structure could not be built on this property (per the Cate Estate’s donation terms.)

    The DDD went back to the drawing board to plan how bond funds could best be spent. A committee was formed to identify locations for constructing a pavilion. But it was ultimately decided by the committee that Hammond's "city center" needed be renovated first.

    The DDD pavilion committee and design committee made recommendations to the Board of Directors to spend the acquired bond funds on improving this public green space. Both committees believe this space should be renovated, preserved, and enjoyed by our whole community -- as it is the true center of Downtown Hammond. The Board of Directors approved as well. 

    Supporting Documents

    All Minutes & Agendas 

    Project Schedule - This is a projected schedule. *subject to change*  

    Letter from Bayou Tree Service - Presented by David Benton provided 2/3/2021 

    Letter from Forte & Tablada - Regarding foundation of the monument provided 2/3/2021 (Presented by Roy Dufreche) 

    Urban Park Public Comment Document

    Photos

    View current renderings of the project here. 

    Questions You May Have

    What happened to the idea of constructing a pavilion at this location?

    Several months ago, the DDD formed a Pavilion Committee, dedicated solely to this idea. After careful consideration and discussion, the committee and newly elected board have decided to go in a different direction with this location. Many legal obstacles presented themselves, and the board felt it was best to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate all possibilities for this downtown area.

    Will the DDD still build a pavilion?

    It's a possibility. With our recent acquiring of the Feed & Seed property, we anticipate this property could do for Downtown what a pavilion would do plus more.  While the idea of building a pavilion is not completely off our agenda, it is tabled for now and the Urban Park and Feed & Seed our primary focus. Learn more about the Feed & Seed project here

    Who decided on this project?

    Updating this area has been part of all the DDD recent Master Plans, including the first edition in 1990 and the latest edition in 2019. Our board and committee members have discussed this project for quite some time. The board appointed a "Pavilion Location Committee" to scout out the best options for a new community space in our district. After a few meetings, the committee voted and recommended to the Board of Directors that, first and foremost, the bond-issued money should be spent renovating this location. This was also recommended by our Design Committee.

    Who is paying for this?

    In 2018, the DDD took out a bond for $300,000 to renovate this location. It's first goal was to spend the money on a community space upgrade (at the time, hopefully a pavilion.) After much research and discussion, it's been decided that a pavilion is not the best use of this particular property. However - the DDD and its constituents believe that this space should be renovated, preserved, and used by our whole community; as it is the true center of Downtown Hammond. As for the rest of the cost, it is being paid for by the DDD, some sidewalk and parking improvements by the City of Hammond. Details are still in the works and all funding still must be approved by the DDD Board of Directors and the City of Hammond. 

    Why now?

    75% of the bond funding must be spent by October 2021. Time to get to work! 

    How will it affect parking?

    The only parking being altered is the diagonal parking on SW Railroad. Through the survey, we know that our community feels those spots are not safe. The parking along that block will turn to parallel parking which will eliminate about 5 parking spaces. We will also be adding new sidewalks, street trees, bollards and traffic calming measures, ultimately making this area safer for those parking and walking. 
    What about the live oak trees and the monument on this property?
    There are NO plans to remove or alter our beloved live oaks. In fact, the DDD has hired Bayou Tree Service to oversee the plans and construction to ensure the safety of the trees. The monument will receive an upgraded foundation and be moved approximately 10 feet in order to better preserve it for years to come.  

    How can I get involved?

    Come to the public meetings and give your input or take the online survey.  All new information, minutes, sketches, ideas, and more will be added to the website. 
    Railroad Park Photos
    Current renderings for Railroad Park. These designs are subject to change. For t...
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    The Old Feed & Seed Revitalization InitiativeThe old Feed & Seed is getting an upgrade!
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    Ddd Board Of Directors Meeting
    Apr 21, 2021
    5:30 PM CDT
    310 E. Charles St.
    Hammond, LA 70401
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    Hammond Farmers Market
    Apr 24, 2021
    8:00 AM CST
    2 West Thomas St.
    Hammond, LA 70401
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    Hammond Farmers Market
    May 01, 2021
    8:00 AM CST
    2 West Thomas St.
    Hammond, LA 70401
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    Ddd Design Committee Meeting
    May 06, 2021
    9:00 AM CDT
    310 E. Charles St.
    Hammond, LA 70401
    Read More