St. Charles Parish studying recreational facilities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2012



HAHNVILLE – A recently drafted study of the St. Charles Parish parks and recreation system recommends creation of a citizen-based advisory board that can be proactive when it comes to issues and concerns at the parish’s park facilities.

The $80,000 study, conducted by the Wallace, Roberts & Todd planning firm, was commissioned in 2009 and is now ready for public examination. Parish residents are invited to make suggestions and address concerns during two public meetings on Aug. 28 in Destrehan and Aug. 29 in Luling.

“The biggest challenge the parish has is not in providing parks or programs, but in ensuring that these parks are integrated into a system that provides equitable recreational access to all of its residents,” the study says. “Today, the greatest park needs are in the growing communities of Boutte, St. Rose and Destrehan.”

The study also recommends the parish begin asking residential real estate developers to pay for park fees in cash instead of in land donations so the parish can acquire larger swaths of land in more strategic locations. The study also says the parish should reduce operating costs by disposing of low-recreational value properties and recommends the creation of an additional park of at least 10 acres.

Residents can view or download the study from the parish’s website,, and discuss the plan Aug. 28 at the East Regional Library, 160 W. Campus Drive in Destrehan, and on Aug. 29 at the West Regional Library, 105 Lakewood Drive in Luling. Both meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“This will be an opportunity for our residents to see what has been created through their input and to continue to influence the process,” St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation Director Duane Foret said in a news release. “In the end, this will make a big impact in our community as it will guide our path to the future of St. Charles Parish parks and recreation.”

Foret said his department already has been working on making improvements called for in the draft, including the installation of additional playground equipment, expanding walking and bike trails, establishing new parks where acreage deficiencies were found and assisting in planning a new parish-owned gym space in the Edward Dufresne Community Center, now under construction in Luling.

A key weakness found in the study was the lack of a citizen advisory board. The study said the process of decision making about park and recreation issues has been largely reactive and managed directly by the Parish Council.

“Parks and recreation advisory boards represent and interpret the needs of the citizens,” the study says. “(The board) works closely with the paid staff and assists in providing guidance for the department. It does not have policy-making authority but provides a critical link between the citizens, department staff, the administration, and elected officials.”

The study also calls for provisions to ensure that parks, libraries and other key facilities are connected by bike and pedestrian paths, located away from traffic arteries whenever possible. Other goals include maximizing the lifespan and use of existing and future facilities by ensuring adequate flexibility and adaptability, continually seeking to expand the scope of the Parish’s recreation services to include aspects of health, leisure education and culture and seeking equitable ways to distribute the cost of open space and recreational facilities necessary to serve new development between the private and public sectors.