LIVINGSTON — The imminent purchase of the Denham Springs Country Club by the Parks and Recreation District of Denham Springs (PARDS) has sparked concern about plans for improvements to other parks.
PARDS was set to close March 15 on the purchase of the 61-year-old facility at a price tag of $186,958.54.
The sale price reflects the amount owed to the Bank of Zachary, which had the mortgage on the property.
The purchase will create a $160,000 capital outlay deficit for the park, according to Randy Smith, who handles the accounting for the district.
The shortfall only affects capital outlay, not the operational budget, he said.
The district will take approximately $200,000 from reserves later in the year to cover the deficit, Smith said.
Meanwhile, residents who use South Park want the board to consider improvements for their park.
Board Chairman Jimmy Purvis asked residents to compile a wish list of what they want for their park, located about a half-mile from Plantation Estates Subdivision.
South Park was originally intended as a green space park for horseback riding, picnics, and kite-flying. It hosts soccer leagues and some baseball and softball, along with a spring fair and “Trunk or Treat” on Halloween night.
“We don’t have a problem with the purchase of the country club, but what about South Park?” resident Megan Harris Mayer said.
Items on the immediate wish list included additional playground equipment, improvements to the restrooms, and repairs of the fence that leads to an adjacent mobile home park.
Others want pavilions, a walking trail, and a dog park.
The park opened around the time of the district’s inception in 1973.
The widespread growth of the parish – and traffic volume – necessitated the changes, said Livingston Parish Councilman R.C. “Bubba” Harris, whose District 2 includes the area.
“It was much different back then – mostly rural – but the times have changed a lot since then,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like to have to go through all the traffic to go to North Park.”
At the meeting, Harris said he was going to check with Gravity Drainage District 1, which manages the area, about any additional drainage projects that would be necessary before improvements are made - including new fencing.
South Park is not the only facility that could use improvement, according to one member of the PARDS board.
The district should also consider improvements to L.M. Lockhart Park, said Vice Chairman Arthur Perkins, a retired educator and former Denham Springs city councilman.
“We could definitely use more playground equipment,” he said. “A lot of kids go to that park … more than people think.”
The PARDS board voted unanimously to purchase the country club, nine-hole golf course and swimming pool, which it will rename “The Pines at North Park.”
PARDS made the right decision, Perkins said.
“You can’t pass up a price like that for a building and land,” Perkins said. “If it doesn’t do well as a country club, we could put it to many other uses.”