Lawler explains post-Recreation meeting “healthy discussion”

District 7 Councilman Aaron Lawler

Aaron Lawler

So what precipitated the healthy discussion after the Recreation Meeting…it goes way back. It starts with a vision I have for each park in Ascension and that is to have all inclusive play equipment at our parks. Just because a child is using a wheel chair or other device it doesn’t mean they should not be able to play with their friends. I call this plan Play Together Ascension. I suggested this to the administration well before the play equipment was installed at the Cajun Industries Soccer Complex. However, when the new equipment was installed, it was not wheelchair accessible. I was disappointed.

I went to see the new equipment and there was no safety surface. I waited a month and still no surface. I reported it to the Recreation Director’s supervisor, who to his credit got the ball rolling on a safety surface. Now, I had done my research and I know what the surface should entail. It took me about 10 min on google. Imagine my surprise to find 1.5-3 inches of wood mulch spread under the play area. It should have been 9-12 inches of mulch.  During the next recreation meeting I discussed the deficiencies and was told, by our recreation director, that putting the play equipment over grass or this minimal amount of mulch was fine and he had a “pamphlet” that supported him. I was shocked. I asked to see the pamphlet. Still haven’t seen it. According to the CPSC Handbook for Playground Safety, we were at least 6 inches too shallow. I confirmed thiswith Ricky Compton, who now does a great job at BREC.

So…rubber mulch was added. I thought great, this is safe and presumably done the right way…wrong. As you can see from the photos, weeds are growing through. I receive numerous complaints about the condition of this area. What should have been done…install a fabric week barrier, then 2-3 inches of sand for drainage, then the mulch. Not complicated.

So at the meeting, I see we have hired two people, one was a replacement for a departed employee. I did not want to make an issue of the second employee during the meeting as the issue was not with the specific individual and I wanted to keep the persons name out of it. So after the meeting I asked the Rec. Director and his supervisor what the duties of the new employee were. No one could say! Worse yes, I was told we really need to hire 3-4 more people. I am sorry but I lost it. I am tired of the parish hiring people constantly. I told BJ and Moose that we need to stop hiring people. And yes, I cursed. I said the playground at the soccer fields looked like “Shit”. Plus, how are we going to eradicate the weeds? Lawnmower?

Photo included in Lawler post

Weedeater? Roundup? None of these will work, so an employee will have to use precious work hours to remove them by hand. They the mulch will have to be removed and this be done correctly.

Yes, we are making some improvements at parks, but my fear is “what is the quality and how safe”? Isthe batting cages made of recycled play equipment safe? What safety standards were used? If the safety surface at the play area is any indication, they may be unsafe. What is the status of lighting at the baseball and softball fields? Why hasn’t the parish made any grant applications to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, like I suggested over a year ago? I guess we are flush with money.

On August 13 Lawler posted the following, apparently having met with the Recreation Director:

Passion. Bj Romano and I share it for recreation. The news and others want to blow things up for clicks and to attract voters. But B.J. and I just had a great meeting about our goals for recreation. I for one would rather work with someone with a passion for his job than someone just collecting a paycheck.