27 years later, Ama still waiting for public park

October 24, 2007 at 1:42 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Morris Friloux, pictured here at the proposed site.
Morris Friloux, pictured here at the proposed site.
An Ama resident has been waiting 27 years for a park and playground project for the children living in the close knit family community to be completed on St. Mark's Avenue.

Morris Friloux grew up in the community and is disappointed that for more than two decades, an ordinance to complete work on the play  area has come to a halt without explanation.

"Forty years ago, there was no playground in Ama," Friloux said. "Despite the fact that almost all age groups participated in baseball and softball, parish officials did nothing to help folks in Ama get a playground for the children."

Friloux formed the Ama Athletic Civic Association, with several residents in the community.

"Ama pulled together for the benefit of its children and started various fundraising activities and negotiated with a local Grain Company in the area to make a land donation," Friloux said. "We did this with no help or assistance whatsoever from our parish."

In 1960, Ama was able to obtain a strip of land for a playground, but it wasn't until 1982 when parish officials became involved.

"The parish officials, along with St. Mark's Catholic Church in Ama, decided to construct a playground in three phases," Friloux said.

According to official documentation obtained from parish records, the three phase project would cost $796,886.

"The project was partially funded by the federal government; at least $293,126 was and would be the cost of the first phase," Friloux said. "There was a promise that the parish and the church, through the partially funded federal grant, would build additional play areas, bike trails, which would be used to justify the need for my family's property and a roadway."

Friloux says the parish didn't follow through with its promise to complete the park's expansion, and  that would include using part of his family’s land to complete a roadway.

"No matter how they put it, the intent of the parish was to complete the roadway that they promised, and I will testify to that in any court of law," he said.

Vial says the parish has met every obligation to the Friloux family and followed the signed contractual agreement.

"Phase I was the only phase of the park that was actually funded, and the parish built that to completion, funding has never been provided for any of the other phases and that's why it hasn't been done," Tim Vial, parish administrator said.

Documentation of a proposed ordinance dated, December 31, 1985 says phase I of the park was supposed to consist of a softball field with fencing, site work, backstop and bleachers, picnic shelter, jogging trails, four exercise stations and a tot lot.

"This park is nothing what the people in Ama were promised, and it's a shame that an ordinance was passed and not honored," Friloux said.

Vial says the park project began with the parish acquiring two strips of property, one strip from the Arch dioceses in New Orleans; the other was donated by the Roux family, so it was a combination purchase and land donation.

"There was a proposed contract that went to the Friloux family and talked about a street being constructed all the way to the railroad track," Vial said. "The parish council staff at the time met with Mr. Lagarde, the family's attorney, and re-negotiated the contract and that statement was taken out and the agreement was signed by all the family members including Morris."

In June 2006 Brian Fabre, introduced a resolution requesting the parish take a look at all of the efforts involved in getting the park constructed.

"Brian's resolution only ensured that the parish attorney reviewed the documents and the councilmen at the time agreed to have the documents reviewed," Vial said.  "The documents were valid and the council had done everything it agreed to in the contract the Friloux family signed."

Vial says if the park was comleted according to the proposed design, the road would probably have to be complete.

Friloux has started a website called www.forgottencommunity.com discussing Ama and some smaller communities in St. Charles Parish that he feels are not being given the attention or recognition by the parish that they deserve.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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