St. John may get additional locations for recreational and exercise parks

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 29, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Children of St. John Parish may soon have two more options for exercise and entertainment, courtesy of the Parish Council’s decision Tuesday to begin investigating possible locations for new recreation centers on the East and West Banks.

The Parish Council unanimously passed a motion to set up a workshop to discuss possible locations for two new gyms, following on the heels of the groundbreaking of a new ballpark on the West Bank.

Parish representatives have already created conceptual drawings and cost estimates for new facilities, although that data will not be released until Feb. 15, when it will be presented to the council with recommendations.

The facilities’ locations are undecided, but several council members recommended building the East Bank recreation center south of Airline Highway to provide a safe alternative for children who currently cross the highway to get to Regala Park.

&#8220The kids crossing Airline Highway to go to Regala – that’s not safe,” Councilman Dale Wolfe said. &#8220I’m not knocking where Regala is. In its time it was perfect, but right now we need something in the community.” Councilman Lester Rainey echoed Wolfe’s sentiments.

Council representatives could not estimate how soon groundbreaking would begin on either facility.

&#8220This is something we’re all interested in working on,” Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom said. &#8220We do see it happening but I can’t give a timeline”

The facilities will be constructed in phases, and Wolfe would like to ensure that the council stays true to an established design, which it failed to do with the civic center.

&#8220We had proposed a gym in the civic center, in order to play basketball in the facility and they eliminated that,” Wolfe said. &#8220We need to talk about all of that, those taxpayers’ dollars went towards that. There’s opportune time to get it together and try to spend our dollar wisely and not just in one place.”

Regala would not be replaced by the new recreation centers, according to Wolfe.

In other business, a lawyer representing St. John Parish residents raised concerns about whether Marathon Oil Co. received the proper building permits for a $3.2 billion expansion of its Garyville refinery.

Marathon Oil Co. reportedly obtained state permits but the attorney questioned whether they had the parish permits necessary for the expansion.

The discussion was halted by a suggestion by St. John Council Attorney Jeff Perilloux that comments regarding the matter raise the possibility of legal action. The matter is expected to be presented at a future council meeting.

The plant expansion, which is slated to be completed in 2009, was given approval by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in Dec. 2006.