DENHAM SPRINGS - PARDS has turned into a machine.
Especially over the summer.
Recreation District 3, dubbed 'Parks and Recreation District 3,' provides a place to hang out and play for over 1,000 local kids every summer. 230 employees make sure that the programs and facilities run smoothly during the hottest months of the year, when the park is most popular for the kids.
The board - which is made of appointees from parish council districts 3 (Maurice Keen), 4 (John Wascom), and 5 (Bubba Harris) - does that by setting superintendent Gary Templeton to task with a $4 million budget.
The park's biggest expenses are wages ($1.9 million) and electricity ($300,000), as well as a 'Master Plan Obligation,' which is a fund dedicated to the debt incurred by the construction of the Fitness and Aquatic Center ($650,000).
Half of the district's funds come from 15-mill tax on property in the park's service area. The other half is gathered via fees which include gym memberships, team registrations, rental fees, and camp fees.
Recently, that fee schedule increased to include tee times at the new 'Pines at North Park' country club, the recently purchased and refurbished Denham Springs Country Club. The 9-hole course has a $22 tee rate, and beer and alcohol is also available.
That purchase brought residents from the southern end of the district to a PARDS board meeting, questioning the difference between North Parks amenities and South Park's more 'green space' approach. Compared to its northern sister, South Park is relatively simple with a large open field, dog park, equestrian center, basketball court, and walking trail.
"South Park was always meant to be wide, open space," Templeton said, "but the board has heard the requests and are going back-and-forth on a list of improvements."
Those upgrades include a transformation of South Park's dog park into a Raising Cane's dog park, which will include more space, water features, and more seating areas for the human companions.
According to Templeton, the new park will begin installation the first week in June. The board is also in discussions for a new dog park at North Park.
"The community has been asking for these and we're trying to deliver," Templeton said.
North Park itself has evolved from a collection of baseball and softball fields into a multi-purpose park. While Denham Springs High School is responsible for the care and maintenance of their fields in season, the park maintains the rest of the ball fields.
Beyond that, North Park has a large list of offerings:
- Two gyms for basketball and events
- Indoor and outdoor pool
- Aqua PARDS - water playground
- Walking paths around lakes
- Multi-use ball park
- Tennis Courts
- Spare high school baseball and softball fields
- Soccer fields
- Green space
- Event pavilion