4th of July Walker

Kids play with hula hoops as rain is illuminated by the setting sun during the Walker 4th of July Celebration at Sidney Hutchinson Park. (photo by Crystal LoGiudice | The News)

Green space is the highest use of land in Livingston Parish, and it's not close.

Roughly 384 square miles, or 55 percent, is vacant land, with agriculture coming in second with 194 square miles. Finally, parks take up four total square miles in Livingston Parish, or just about 1 percent of land.

But not all recreation areas are created equal.

Tickfaw State Park is funded by the legislature, with some local buy-in. The park offers nature walks, camping areas, cabins, fishing, and a museum about the history of the Tickfaw River and the natural habitat it created.

Several places, however, have their own parks and some are funded, and some are not.

Two parks currently have dedicated funding through property tax millage. Recreation District 2 and 3 both charge 15-mill on valued assets within the district. District 2 services Watson, while District 3 services the Denham Springs area.

District 2 focuses mostly on sports with baseball and softball fields, as well as soccer fields, while also offering a few basic amenities including a pavilion. There's also a community center where the board meets that is for rent for an affordable price.

PARDS (Parks and Recreation Denham Springs) manages three different parks — North Park, South Park, and LM Lockhart Park, all in the Denham Springs area. North Park has turned into the jewel of the district, offering everything from walking paths to ball fields, to gyms and an outdoor aquatic playgrounds.

The district also recently purchased the old Denham Springs Country Club for under $200,000, which gave PARDS a 9-hole golf course and a clubhouse for rent.

North Park also provides the home fields for the Denham Springs High School baseball and softball teams. 

South Park has been maintained as a green space for the most part, with a dog park, basketball goal, and a playground being offered. PARDS recently announced their dog park would be improved with the help of Raising Cane's.

There is also an equestrian center.

LM Lockhart has a gym, indoor event center, and outdoor basketball courts.

Moving east to Walker, the city maintains their own park called Sidney Hutchinson. Located on the north side of Walker, Sidney Hutchinson continues to expand through extra funding from the city, as well as grant funding.

What was once mostly green space has expanded to include baseball and softball fields, a pavilion, a fishing lake, dog park, running and walking paths, and some green space for large-scale events.

Continuing down 190, both Livingston and Albany maintain their own park systems. Livingston used to have their own recreation district, which also maintained Colyell Park, but politics and differences caused a split in the district. Parish councilmen from both areas pushed for a vote to start a millage for each park, individually, but both measures failed.

Since then, both districts remain in limbo, trying to use fees to make ends meet. Livingston's park system faces difficulty as the facility was raised to be able to host softball and baseball tournaments — like North Park, Doyle High's baseball and softball teams play their home games there — but funding for lights at night remains an issue.

Albany has a small park that rests on the Hornet's school campus, the brain child of two students who graduated in 2016. The park has grown into a playground, pavilion, and green space. The city has to use their own funding and grants, like Livingston and Walker, to maintain their recreation area.

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