Envision more parks, arts, trails close to home

KELLY BROOKS, REPORTER @kbrooks_1

The Recreation Committee of Ascension Parish and The Communication Institute held a public meeting titled, “Envision More Parks, Arts and Trails Close to Home” on March 10 at the Lemann Center in Donaldsonville.  The meeting allowed the community to comment on plans to enhance Ascension Parish parks.  Ascension Parish Councilmember Travis Turner said the goal of the recreation plan is to have more recreation facilities close to home. 

“I know a lot of y’all bring your kids to parks and facilities 30 to 40 minutes away from your home,” Turner said.  “Ascension Parish has the largest population of people under the age of 18 in the states. We need more activities for them to do.”

There are approximately 16 parks in Ascension Parish.  According to Turner this recreation plan will enhance and upgrade them.  It will increase usability and security, create walking and jogging trails, add splash parks like Oak Grove, upgrade equipment and playgrounds, improve lighting and parking, upgrade tennis courts, and create well-planned dog parks.

Ascension Parish Councilmember Oliver Joseph said plans include changes to the fairgrounds in Donaldsonville.  The baseball field will stay the same but will be upgraded:  the concession stand and bleachers need to be handicap accessible and safer, two basketball courts will be added on Church Street, field 290 will be converted to a spray park, walking track and lake.

“Anything you think needs to be in there please give us information,” Joseph said to those who attended the meeting.

On the property adjacent to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center the plan would create a Multi-Use Sportsplex, a jogging trail around lakes and complex, a Performing Arts Theater, Olympic swimming pool, tournament level baseball and softball fields, and a basketball and volleyball multi use complex.

The plan includes Lemannville, Abend and Modeste Parks.  It includes adding water and electrical outlets to the Pavillion at Lemannville Park, adding new restrooms and playground system at Abend Park, and making significant improvements at Modeste Park.

Adrian Percy of The Communication Institute asked the members of the audience, “What are we missing?  What is it that you really like and what is it you want for your parks in Donaldsonville?” 

The audience replied with the following suggestions: add security cameras, better trash removal, allow fishing on the lake, create a website for information about recreation activities in the area, add a lighted walking trail, pavilion and ceiling fans at Modeste Park, and create a venue for Performing Arts. 

Funding for the plan has not yet been determined. 

“We don’t know what mechanism is going to go. Whether it be a sales tax, millage or however we’re going to try to fund it,” Joseph said.

 Turner added, “We can make this plan your plan and not the council’s plan.”

Joseph added, “It was a very productive meeting.  I think we had over 60 people here and that was very encouraging.”