‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. (Variously attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain; can’t go wrong there)
What follows is Councilman Aaron Lawler’s exposition on the merits of Recreation in general; and soccer specifically, interspersed with editorial comment where necessary. It was an impromptu rant when a discussion about a $3 million gym expansion morphed into a critique of Gonzales Soccer Club’s failure to fulfill its part of the bargain whereby it gained control over seven fields at Lamar Dixon Expo Center. Extemporaneous speaking is not for everyone.
Aaron Lawler: We are expecting, based on every model I’ve seen, about 50,000 more people in this parish by 2030. Have we even looked at how our recreation can handle that?
We constantly fail to plan for the future…Just like the human body, you have to take care of the whole thing. Recreation is not roads; it’s not drainage; it’s not sewage. But it’s important.
Councilman Lawler shared a couple of anecdotes about his family having to travel to multiple gyms to watch his children play basketball (why Ascension needs another gym at Lamar Dixon); and a family he talked to that wants the extra gym space to avoid going to Thibodaux for a volleyball match. So far, so good.
AL: This past weekend we had the Jambalaya Cup, 83 soccer teams from Mississippi, north Louisiana staying in hotels, eating in restaurants. I was at the Cracker Barrel that morning and it was packed with families paying taxes in Ascension Parish. This is an opportunity to bring more taxes into Ascension Parish.
And if Ascension can ever provide sewer and water those restaurants and hotels might actually locate in unincorporated areas of the parish. As it stands now the City of Gonzales reaps all the benefits from those visitors for which, on behalf of the city and Mayor Barney Arceneaux…Thank You. As it happens, Cracker Barrel is located in Tanger Outlet Mall where the city has to share much of that revenue as part of a Tax Increment Financing arrangement.
Lawler would go on to make a Quality of Life argument, claiming that employers have to pay more to attract workers to Louisiana…
AL: Especially to Ascension Parish and St. James. There was a study done on that.
Because we don’t have the, not just recreation, we don’t have everything that some of these other parishes have. These employers want that. They want to be able to bring a person in to work in this parish and have that person want to stay here.
Maybe that explains why Ascension’s population has doubled in the last 25 years; or why, according to Lawler himself, it is projected that another 50,000 are on the way. How many people have moved into those other parishes?
Why don’t we ask those employers to pony up for Better Recreation, NOW!? We asked existing residents to pay for it not so long ago…
and they were not all that interested.
AL: We’ve had 20 years. We’ve watched our recreation and our fields fall apart and haven’t done anything about it And now it’s like, ‘oh, we gotta do something about it.’ If we sit pat and do nothing, and don’t look at expanding recreation for the future, when you have 50,000 more people in this parish we’re gonna be right back where we are ten years ago from now.