Recreation Committee recommends uses for $14 million from American Rescue Plan

Appearing on Thursday’s Parish Council meeting agenda is a recommendation to approve $10,749,980 worth of “recreation items” to be funded by a $14,000,000  “American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)” allocation.  Pursuant to a recommendation by the Council’s Recreation Committee last week, the recommendation includes $3.5 million in drainage and water quality projects envisioned by President Clint Cointment’s administration.  Director of Planning and Facilities Ricky Compton.  

The list includes expenditures at 18 separate sites across the parish, none greater than the $4.8 million earmarked for a St. Amant Community Health and Wellness Center.  Ascension is funds from ARPA “because we still have not received word from FEMA that they’re going to let us use the St. Amant Park replacement costs” after the Flood of August 2016.  Inclusion in the ARPA list of items “ensures simultaneous construction with the Library,” according to Compton.

St. Amant library/community center (on piers) envisioned multi-agency effort

Ascension Parish Library is set to build a branch serving the St. Amant area of the parish, “not a population center” according to Dutchtown/Geismar council representative Teri Casso.  “I just need to understand why the Health and Wellness Center is appropriate for St. Amant,” she lamented before getting on board with the program.

The next largest allocation is recommended for South Louisiana Fairgrounds in Donaldsonville where $1,050,000 will build an Airnasium and new restrooms.  What is an airnasium you might be asking…

“Imagine a gymnasium without walls that is protected from the rain,” explained Compton, Ascension’s dream-weaving visionary if ever we had one.

Lights will be installed to allow for play after dark.

$1 million included for Water Quality/Litter Abatement of the Amite River (though Compton said it could be applied in other waterways.

“It’s a machine that you launch into a waterway, using the current of the river to turn a paddle wheel, a boom to collect litter and a conveyor to lift litter into a floating trash dumpster.”

$950,000 is going toward Ascension’s first All-Inclusive Playground at Youth Legacy Park on Hwy 621.

$600,000 for for a Water Garden and Landscaping, and some pervious parking, at the new courthouse on Worthey St. in Gonzales should raise some eyebrows.  Since the courthouse was “value-engineered” to save some money…

Taxpayers were not supposed pay for new courthouse (the $3 Million council resolution)

no landscaping was included.  At the urging of Ascension’s Clerk of Court and Sheriff, according to the Planning and Facilities Director, a food truck court may be added.

  • Hillaryville Park-new playground, (2) basketball courts and a walking path ($486,660)
  • Lemannville Park-new restrooms and a playground ($350,000)
  • Butch Gore Park-new restrooms and completion of walking path ($240,835)
  • Geismar Park-new restrooms, walking path and pickleball (basketball) courts (“There is a growing community of pickleball players” in Ascension if you hadn’t heard)($236,660)
  • Roger J. Clouatre Park-BMX Pump track and Disc Golf Course ($190,000)
  • Paula Park-new restrooms and walking path ($145,000)
  • Lamar Dixon Expo Center-restrooms at the Soccer Complex ($100,000)
  • Modest Park-new restrooms ($100,000)
  • Oak Grove Park-new restrooms ($100,000)
  • Prairieville Park-new restrooms ($100,000), it is among the most frequented after hours with an adult softball league and dog park)
  • Southwood Park-new restrooms ($100,000)
  • Keystone Park-kayak launch ($100,000) to access Henderson Bayou, then the Bayou Manchac/Amite depending on whether the pumps are on
  • Camp Drive Repetitive Loss property-kayak launch

Certain of the remaining funds (out of $14,000,000) are earmarked for:

  • Regional Detention/ Stormwater Mitigation/Water Quality Project ($2 million).  HNTB Engineers is trying to identify properties suitable for detention which could possibly be used for recreational purposes when dry.
  • Water Sector Match ($1 million) These matching funds are a requirement from the state of Louisiana as part of the upgrade plans to the West Ascension Water system – Replace aging infrastructure and improve water line system.