Recreation Center Hit by Hurricane Katrina Reopens

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A New Orleans recreation center opened its doors this week for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, along with city and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, celebrated the reopening of the newly renovated, $4.9 million John P. Lyons Memorial Center on Monday.

"As one of my administration's committed capital projects, the Lyons Center once again stands as a safe place where our children and young adults can learn and play and where parents can watch them grow," Landrieu said in a statement. "Community centers like the Lyons Center keep our children off the streets and focused on their future."

The Lyons Center's renovation included a new gym floor with volleyball standards, a new wood stage and theater equipment, repaired bleacher seating and a dance room. The facility also received a new roof and HVAC system.

The center, which first opened in 1954, spent the years after Hurricane Katrina in disrepair, according to NOLA.com. The re-opening was delayed by construction setbacks and the theft of $150,000 worth of copper pipes and wiring in 2009, which undid many of the repairs.

The project was funded through city bond funds and $2.2 million in federal taxpayer dollars coordinated by FEMA. Andre Cadogan, deputy director of programs for the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office, said FEMA is proud of its role in funding repairs and called the opening a "great recovery milestone."

The Lyons Center also received a $215,000 donation from Chevron and a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation as part of the Super Bowl Legacy Project. New Orleans played host to the Super Bowl in February.

LaToya Cantrell, a city councilmember, said the center was an investment in community residents and proof of the city's continued recovery.

"Together we can foster and grow the dreams and aspirations of area residents, and I remain encouraged that there's nothing, as a city, that we can't accomplish," Cantrell said. "New Orleans continues to be on the rebound, and today's reopening of the Lyons Center is evidence of that."

On Monday, Landrieu and city officials also celebrated the opening of the Lyons Center pool, as well as 12 other city-operated pools, which will offer aquatics programs focusing on water skills and education.

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