Master plan for recreational facility discussed for Donaldsonville

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

Donaldsonville citizens have been wishing for a recreation facility to give for quite a while, maybe now their desires will be satisfied. Ascension Parish officials met at the Donaldsonville City Hall last Tuesday to discuss the master plan and launching of the first phase of a $10 million renovation of the South Louisiana Fairgrounds within the next year.

Eric Poché, a landscape architect with the Baton Rouge design firm SJB Group, said a $250,000 spray park was expected to be in the parish’s 2013-14 budget.

“The parish wanted to do something activity-wise that would have a good impact from the get-go,” Poché said.

The plan is to upgrade the fairgrounds including the existing baseball complex and three softball fields, and add outdoor basketball courts, a skate park, children’s soccer/football fields, playground, spray park, lake, walking track, multi-purpose buildings, concessions and restrooms. The plan also includes an upgraded parking lot and parking areas for the grounds.

In the meeting, Poché insisted feedback from Ascension Parish officials, Donaldsonville officials and the Donaldsonville community. He said the master plan is always subject to change and is open to change if necessary.

The first phase of the plan Poché demonstrated probably would include renovated parking, the spray park and the lake, which will be used as a detention pond in conjunction with the spray park, he said.

Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph, who represents Donaldsonville, said the timetable for completing the upgrade is dependent on available funding. Currently, there is no dedicated funding for recreation in the parish.

Joseph said the parish’s recreation department is looking at instituting a property tax that could generate $5 million per year specifically for recreation. He said he hopes it could be on the ballot by November but said, “we haven’t worked out all the details.”

“If that passes, that’s how fast this project goes,” Joseph said.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. asked parish officials how many mills the property tax would consist of and if it would be limited to Donaldsonville only.

Joseph said the proposed property tax would be a parish-wide tax that also would lead to recreational improvements at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

“It’s a plan, but we all [have to] work together to make it a reality,” Joseph said.