Community

BREC Updating Central Parks

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Photos and article submitted by David Barrow, Courtesy of BREC

    BREC (Baton Rouge Parks &  Recreation) is moving forward with plans to construct the Greenwell Springs Historical Park on Greenwell Springs Rd just north of the Greenwell Springs Hospital.  This site sits on approximately 85 acres of land and borders the Amite River.

    In a meeting held on January 13, 2011, BREC Superintendent Bill Palmer announced plans for the park and stated that BREC has dedicated over $500,000 towards the project.  Also in attendance at the meeting were BREC Assistant Superintendent Ted Jack, Central Mayor Mac Watts, State Representatives Bodi White and Clif Richardson,  State Senator Dale Erdey, and David Barrow.    Our state legislators appropriated $50,000 to the city of Central this year to assist BREC in making this park a reality.  The city will use its $50,000 towards constructing a fence around a section of the property, as requested by BREC and the state of Louisiana.

    BREC Assistant Superintendent Ted Jack stated that planning for the park will begin this year with at least one public meeting scheduled for community input.  This park will not be just a regular park.  It will be developed with walking trails, picnic areas, and buildings that reflect the historical nature of the site.  Strong input will be taken from historians in the community in helping to develop the park.  It is anticipated that this new park will be a regional draw.  

    In other news, BREC has been busy making numerous improvements to parks throughout Central.  The following is a list of parks and improvements that have been made or are underway:

Palomino Park (in Bridlewood subdivision) 
We have built a new shelter and worked on play equipment
We made modifications to the lTennis Center so that it could be used for Day Camp
We are about to resurface four tennis courts

Kolby Park (in Central Woods subdivision)
Completely renovated the park including new play equipment

Lovett Road Park
Installed two new lighted ball fields in the front
Enlarged parking area
Completed Playground Renovations
Added new restroom and HC parking
Added new turn lane at entrance

Railey Roshto (in Northwoods subdivision)
Added play equipment
Installed picnic pavilion
Built new concrete walks and HC parking

Blackwater Conservation Area (corner Hooper & Blackwater)
Added HC accessible fishing pier
Added washing station
Added concrete walks and trees

    The most exciting new project underway in Central is the new Central Community Sports Park located at the corner of Hooper Rd & Lovett Rd.  Several public meetings were held to gather input as to how the park should be designed. From the results of those meetings, BREC developed a master plan for the park.  BREC has completed the purchase of the land, mitigated wetland issues, cleared and grubbed the site, and they are currently about to bid the physical improvements to the property.

    The sports park will have 7 baseball fields, 3 multi-use practice fields that can be used for soccer and other sports, a covered pavilion, restrooms, a large fishing lake, and numerous walking/jogging trails.  It will be developed in phases with entrances from both Hooper Rd and from Lovett Rd.

BLACKWATER CONSERVATION AREA:

LOVETT ROAD PARK:

 

KOLBY PARK:

PALOMINO PARK:

 

RAILEY ROSHTO PARK:

 

HOOPER ROAD SPORTS PARK:

 

18 Comments

  1. Wendy

    January 27, 2011 at 9:13 am

    What is the address or where exactly are the building this park by Greenwell Springs Hospital?

  2. David Barrow

    January 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Wendy:

    BREC has acquired approx. 85 acres of land directly north and adjacent to the Greenwell Springs Hospital. There are two dilapidated buildings in the front by the northern most driveway of the hospital. This is the property where the original springs were located and still exist and will be preserved.

  3. Another Central resident

    January 27, 2011 at 10:37 am

    David,

    It is great to see BREC finally spending money on the parks in Central; however, I wish a Central Parks and Recreation was established to have control over the tax dollars. I do have a question. Can Central break away from BREC and have their own parks and recreation system? If so, what happens to the parks property? Does it remain with BREC or would Central have to purchase it?

    Has their been any discussion within the current administration or council to seek a way to establish our own Parks and Recreation?

    Please don’t take this as being negative but BREC has been collecting TAX dollars for years without any substantial improvements until the last couple years. If we are unable to breakaway from BREC, I hope the current administration keeps the pressure on BREC to provide the necessary park improvements that the Central residents deserve.

    Has there been any additional discussions about what BREC plans to do with the land at the end of Frenchtown they purchased or were looking into purchase and what is the time frame for that implementation.

  4. ward

    January 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Since this new park is expected to be a regional draw, it could be even more so if it was to collect green fees. I will gladly pay my green fees to “Hot Springs Golf and Historical Park”.

  5. Mike Mannino

    January 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    This is great but let me remind everyone what BREC promised us in 2008 as part of an agreement to not pull out of the system. We were promised 6.25M in improvements of which 600k was on the GS Hospital. A community Park and a sports center were also part of this deal. 2.9M was allocated in 2008 for the sports park on Hooper and the only thing done so far is the land purchase. We contribute 14Mils of property tax to BREC which in 2008 was about 1.4M dollars. Just think of how much more we can get for that money than what we have seen. Instead we are paying for a waterpark at Independence Park, new soccer fields on Burbank, and many other Baton Rouge projects while ignoring us. They had their chance, it is time to get out of BREC and run this ourselves.

  6. David Barrow

    January 28, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Another Central Resident: Mike is correct in that BREC promised Central that there would be improvements to parks in Central. To date, BREC has made numerous improvements to parks in Central, with plans to continue those improvements. An example is the new park in Central Woods. We all know the Central Woods area needs improvements. Some residents in that area came to the mayor’s office to ask for help in improving their subdivision almost two years ago. One of the things they asked for was improvements to Kolby Park, which basically was an empty piece of ground with a basketball goal, but no concrete pad. BREC was asked to help out, and they did without hesitation. Now, they have a brand new park there with plenty of playground equipement and improvements, and the park is well maintained. This was a morale boost for the neighborhood. They have also made substantial improvements to Palomino Park in Bridlewood, including building the new indoor facility, improving the fishing lake, and they are about to resurface the four tennis courts. They have also improved other parks, as you can see above. The Hooper Rd sports park is under construction now, as you can see from the land clearing photos above.

    Bottom line is the city and BREC may have had some differences in the past, but now, there are very good relations between the city and BREC. The city always gets cooperation from BREC when requested. As for the “should we separate from BREC and take over the parks ourselves”, I’ll be glad to discuss that with anyone in a meeting or phone conversation (way too much info to try and type out on here). There are pros and cons.

    In the meantime, I can say that BREC is committed to maintaining and improving the parks here in Central, and we do have a good working relationship with them, and they are always willing to listen to us.

  7. Another Central resident

    January 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

    David,

    Thanks for the response. My only reason of asking about creation of Central’s own recreation park system is that I have two younger children in which we travel with. We seem to visit other town/cities of the same size as Central and they always have some very nice playground facilities and picnic areas. The one built at Lovett is nice but doesn’t even come close to the parks we visit in other cities. When we visit those communities we always make a point to bring our kids to the Park and enjoy a nice day; however, in Central, it never crosses our minds to bring the kids to the Park due to the lack of facilities.

    I posted a link below of an example of what I would love to see in Central. I don’t know if this will be included in the new Park at the corner of Lovett and Hooper. If not, it will be too late for my kids to enjoy if and when something like this is built.

    http://www.jacksonvillebeach.org/index.aspx?NID=196

    South Beach Park & Sunshine Playground in Jacksonville Beach Fla. This playground was built by people of the local community donating their time. Central has plenty of people that have the ability and willingness to build something like this in Central. Maybe this is something that can be worked out with BREC. I don’t remember the name but their is a nation wide organization (maybe KaBOOM, Learning Structures, etc) that specializes in helping organize, getting donations and assist in the design/building of these parks.

  8. cmay09

    January 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Why doesn’t anyone ever ask, “At what price?”? Am I the only one who hates to open my property tax statement every year? We as a society must love new taxes, and our city councils and other ‘leaders’ are all too willing to comply!

  9. Kyle

    January 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    CMay: The city of Central collects NO property taxes. They never have. Also, remember, property taxes have to be voted upon by the people. So, if there is a tax on your bill, chances are that it was voted upon by the people.

  10. cmay09

    January 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Kyle,
    Do you own a home in Central? Look at the breakdown of property taxes that the City of Central does not collect and never has. My taxes have doubled since 2002. ALL Central!!!! You missed the point, people vote on taxes in this “democratic” system. We as a majority vote on new taxes. I understand the system, and it begs a very important question that undermines the “democratic system” for the evil that it contains. If your neighbors vote to take your home or vehicle or any other property of yours by majority, does that make it right? What if that same majority voted that Kyle cannot live in Central? Or type a comment to an article? The point is, the will of the majority should still not be forced on the minority. This is precisely why the Founders of this nation forged it as a “representative republic” and NOT a democracy. I could go on and on about this, but feel I may have already lost you. Prove me wrong.

  11. Mike Mannino

    January 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    cmay,
    Our tax system is severly flawed at all levels. These dedicated taxes and fees have all been put in place in the last 30-40 years. At one time, sewer, garbage, fire protection, police, roads, everything you can think of, was paid for out of a general budget. We built this country on a simple tax system. Now everytime you turn around, another piece is pulled out and a tax dedicated to it and the money that was used before stays in the general fund. BREC and the library are 2 glaring examples of taxes we pay here that we dont get our money back on. And both waste money because they are flush with cash and dont squeeze everything they can out. ~10 years ago,the library property was bought for 100K an acre for 3 acres from someone that had paid 5K an acre a year before. At the time you could buy the most desirable corner of commercial real estate in Central for a fraction of that. I was furious and called the library reperesentative and he didnt see a thing wrong with it.

    An average citizen in this City pays well over 50% of their income in taxes and fees. If you dont believe it, sit down and write down everything you pay and you will be shocked. And the amount of waste, backdoor deals, and fraud irratates the hell out of me. It wont stop until we finally say enough. I have.

  12. cmay09

    January 29, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Mike,
    You are correct about the taxes and the abuses of the system. I hope that the people of Central and other areas for that matter would sit down and examine their finances. Licenses, permits, registrations, and insurance are all another form of taxes, since they are Mandatory. The things we HAVE to pay are way out of hand.
    I think this city was incorporated for many of the same reasons that all others are, because an individual or group stood to make a lot of money from it. The BREC and Library issues are textbook examples of this, and I am sure there is much more that has not come out yet.

  13. NoPlaceToHide

    January 31, 2011 at 6:55 am

    David,

    Maybe you should take the time to explain why the very popular bill that was introduced due to popular demand that would have allowed Central to have control of our parks was pulled without any press coverage. WHY? We asked for our parks. A bill was filed. It went away. We want to know WHY before you defend what or why BREC is doing what it is doing. Receptive, I dont want receptive. I want a parks system that is reflective of our tax contribution. I for one, am tired of seeing Central’s tax dollars being spent on the other side of Baton Rouge.

    I would like you to explain why there is a waterpark being built at independence when nobody within several miles of it pays residential property taxes. Then why Central only gets parks improvements in the form of a few erector set play sets when our residents basically have to stage a protest to get it. Central, where the VAST majority of residents properties are appraised above the homestead exemption.

    Clearly, you have not driven into Lovett Rd. park on a CAYL baseball night. The fields there are substandard, I would venture to say even dangerous due to the holes and anthills all over them, the parking is horrible and overcrowded, if there were ever an emergency in the back such as a car fire, there would be chaos on the order of a stampede out of an AC/DC concert.

    The improvements made over the past two years were basic necessities. How can BREC, or you for that matter, brag about basic restroom improvements or two small concrete pads being poured for handicap use when it should have been there all along?? Mr. Barrow, the small children of Central have had to play in DIRT PILES for the past 30 years in the rear area of Lovett Rd park while their brothers and sisters play softball or baseball. There is still no playground in the back near field 3&4 where the playground should have been all along.

    It is sickening that our elected leaders and even the SELF APPOINTED ones are ok with BREC’s efforts in Central. We deserve for much more. We have paid for much more.

    I cant get over the fact that our kids have to drive to BURBANK to play in organized soccer leagues, that our youth sports of all types have to struggle and even pay to find decent practice facilities.

  14. Another Central resident

    January 31, 2011 at 8:44 am

    It is really painful to ride by the likes of the North Park in Denham Springs and Live Oak in Watson to see how much better their Parks are then Central. I remember back in the day when Lovett Road Park looked like a mecca compared to the Live Oak Park. Live Oak’s Park is really looking great especially now they are building a new football stadium there.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a nice Sports Complex along with Children’s playgrounds and Picnic areas that is in control by Central and not the same bureaucrats of East Baton Rouge Parish. As long as we are still dependent on EBRP, Central along with Zachary and Baker will always be treated as the red headed stepchild. Now that Cooking for Central is taking off events such as those could be held there instead moving around from place to place to where it could become more like a festival that other cities/towns have.

    Just like NPTH mentioned above it is hard to swallow riding around Baton Rouge to see all the new improvements they received years before Central was even touched. How long before that new Aquatic Center is trashed by the local residents.

    I love to put my kids in soccer but I hate that you have to either play at Independence Park or way out on Burbank. I would love for Central to have its own soccer associtation like Biddy Basketball and CAYL baseball.

    Maybe it is time for some residents in Central (stop depending on government) to start forming a committee to see what can be done for Central to have its own park system. It is time for this to happen.

  15. Mike Mannino

    January 31, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Another Resident<
    I suggested during the spring that we ban together with Baker and Zachary to form a tri-city system. Dont know if that is feasible but its obviously possible to form our own system because we went as far as introducing a bill to do just that in 2008. Somebody looked at it and thought that we could manage. If it was possible then, its certainly possible now that we have the city up and running. A few of us plan to get together and discuss moving forward with this and bringing it to the council. Ive had enough of BREC after using our parks and parks around the city for years and seeing how short they fall in providing a decent system. If you are interested in joining us, give me a call at home. I'm listed.

  16. Mike Mannino

    January 31, 2011 at 10:35 am

    BTW, what really irrated me was BREC taking all the credit for the park in Central Woods. That park was built by volunteers from local churches. I’m not sure they did much more than providing materials, if that. For a detailed discussion of the issues with BREC, go to facebook, Non-Censored City Of Central. Quite a few people have posted comments and experiences.

  17. Mike Mannino

    February 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Dave,
    This post probably wont get noticed because its old news but why would you post a picture from last year on the Hooper Rd park ? I passed there today and its obvious no work has been done in a while. Teh picture gives the impression working is currently going on. That is not teh case.

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