Jefferson Parish parents furious over proposed plan to re-imagine parks

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some parents and community members in Jefferson Parish are furious with a new proposed plan to re-imagine six of the Parish’s parks.

Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng and Parks and Recreation Director, Mario Bazile, are visiting the six different communities impacted by the plan to get their feedback.

Wednesday night was focused on the Frank Lemon Gym.

“I hear the offers that you’re bringing, but it’s not satisfactory to the community,” one community member said to Sheng and Bazile.

Shrewsberry community members fiercely defended the Frank Lemon Gym which under the proposed plan would become a year-round cheer and tumbling academy and the fields would be converted for lacrosse.

“My concern here is why all of this has been done and no input from the community?” another community member said.

Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng says this is not a done deal, but out of the 27 playgrounds in the parish Lemon is one of the six they’ve found to be low volume and low participation.

“When you don’t have a lot of kids in a really crowded playground, programming is not as good and so what we want to do is take some of these playgrounds that can’t fill the team all the time, or the kids are playing on other playgrounds anyway and turning them into academies, so we can have a higher level of instruction, all year long,” Sheng said.

The community says that’s not true about their programs, they say they have the numbers and they win games.

“You going to empty out this neighborhood and send us somewhere else saying its better?” one of the basketball coaches asked. “You have no idea because you’re not here. I’ve been coaching here for 15 years. I’ve never seen any of you.”

The plan Sheng says would create a better more equitable experience for the kids. It would turn Avondale and Bright Playgrounds into year-round basketball academies, Delta would become a baseball and softball academy, Bridge City would get an archery range, and Rosethorne would get fishing. Kids who had leagues at those parks could choose any park and league they want to go to.

“You’re going to see us invest in equipment that you can’t find throughout the parish, so the level of instruction is going to be at a level where we don’t have it right now,” Sheng said.

With transportation to the other parks offered up in the plan, many residents wondered why not bring kids from full playgrounds to Lemon and make the facility better.

“This gym has been an icon for the community unless we keep it, kids won’t play, we don’t want to do that,” a community member said. “We don’t want to lose the young kids that we have playing ball right now.”

“Miss Sheng, we don’t want what you guys are offering, we don’t want it,” a community member said.

The next meetings are as follows:

Monday, October 10, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the Avondale Playground

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the Rosethorn Playground (Meeting to take place at the pavilion across the street)

Monday, October 24, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the Bright Playground

Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the Bridge City Playground

Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the Delta Playground

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