Railroad Park Project


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 have the opportunity to purchase personalized bricks here. 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.”
The contractor's notice to proceed officially opened on August 9, 2021. Railroad Park is expected to be complete in 2022.

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. 

Park Opening Frequently Asked Questions

When will the park be open?
The park will be open very soon in Summer 2022. Stay tuned for a Grand Opening Save The Date!


Why has construction taken so long/ what's the hold up?
Due to supply chain issues, securing materials for the engraved bricks has taken about twice as long than anticipated. We want to ensure these bricks are installed prior to the opening of the park.

How many bricks were sold? When & were will they be installed?
We sold a total of 681 bricks. They will be installed no later than May 10, 2022. Bricks will be installed on the eastside of the park in front of the brick columns.
 
How many benches were sold? When & were will they be installed?
We sold a total of 12 benches. They will be installed in late July 2022. Benches will be placed in front of the elm trees on the westside of the park and between the brick columns on the eastside of the park.
 
Can I still buy a brick or a bench?
We can take reservations for a brick or a bench, but cannot guarantee an install date. For more information, email [email protected]
 
When will the mural be installed?
This weekend! You can stop by for a sneak peak of the park and live mural painting throughout the weekend and next week. The mural's anticipated completion date is April 29, 2022.
 
Can I rent Railroad Park for an event?
Yes, reservations are available starting late summer / early fall 2022. Email [email protected] for more information.


Mural in Railroad Park

The title of the final piece is Railroad Park is "Hammond Daydream". Flood describes the concepts as a way to “connect the current state of Hammond to its past.. to all the contributions whether it’s the railroad industry, timber or its farming roots to its current local businesses and friendly atmosphere.. to seamlessly flow with past, present, and future.”

Flood's artistic style offers an ethereal depiction of the community's favorite memories and mainstays in both designs. Features in both designs include historic Hammond storefronts & signage, the iconic 1117 Panama Limited train, and SLU’s Friendship Oak. “This artist’s concept is progressive, innovative, and ties the future and past of Hammond together,” said Hammond Regional Arts Center Director Melissa Griffin. “It will bring joy to that space.” 

Flood also has a goal of completing a large-scale outdoor mural in all fifty states, with four already being completed in North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, and Massachusetts. “She’s aiming to have a mural in each state,” said DDD Design Committee Member Tara Bennett. “The fact that Hammond is representing Louisiana… I love that idea.”

Community members, business owners, and stakeholders have longed to see more opportunities for art in Downtown Hammond. After two months of community conversations and feedback, selected mural artist, Britt Flood,  created two designs for the mural location at Railroad Park.  The DDD invited the community to vote on their favorite design of "Hammond Daydream" in April 2022. After collecting both online and in-person votes, plus hosting an open house to view the designs, the decision was made to choose design A. 
The mural was completed April 28, 2022. 



Through an Request for Proposals process, the DDD Design Committee and Board of Directors selected Britt Flood as the muralist for Railroad Park. The DDD is excited about the vibrancy and unique perspective that Flood’s mural will bring to Railroad Park.
3/5: Hammond Farmers Market 103 E Robert St | 9AM - 12PM
3/9: Hammond Regional Arts Center 217 E Thomas St | 5:30 - 7PM
3/10: Meet the Artist: FB & Instagram Livestream @ 5PM
3/12: Hammond Farmers Market 103 E Robert St | 9AM - 12PM
3/16: City Council Chambers 312 E Charles St | 5:30PM *livestream via YouTube available
Official Statement from the DDD
Artist Selection Timeline
Official Request for Proposal
Presentation of Submissions (DDD Design Committee)
Community members are invited to participate in the following public input sessions to develop mural concepts:
3/3: City Council Chambers 312 E Charles St | 9AM *livestream via YouTube available
We also encouraged community members to provide input by survey.
Artist Selection Process:

History Exhibits in Railroad Park

Railroad Park will feature multiple panels showcasing stories from Hammond's history. 
Join our work group to be a part of the conversation to develop concepts and narratives of histories unique to Hammond. Members include representation from the Hammond Historic District, City of Hammond, Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum & Veteran Archives, and SLU Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies.
Upcoming Meetings at City Council Chambers (312 E Charles St):
Wednesday, March 23rd @ 2PM
Wednesday, March 9th @ 2PM
More meetings will be held in Spring / Summer 2022 at differing times and locations.
You can also leave us a message with any ideas or history components to include at our hotline below.
Railroad Park History Exhibit Hotline: 985 - 277- 5686

Groundbreaking Ceremony

The Hammond Downtown Development District, in partnership with the Tangipahoa Chamber, officially broke ground on Railroad Park on Monday, August 9th. Railroad Park, which will be located at #2 W. Thomas Street, has been a long-standing project of the DDD since 1998. Community members gathered to commemorate the start of the project and see the space once more before construction begins.
To read the full story, click here.

Photo Galleries

Supporting Documents

Public Comment Report - Design Review
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
Frequently Asked Questions

Park Development Public Input Opportunities (Closed)

  • Current public input sessions will involve reviewing the preliminary plans for the park.  
    • 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