No grant equals no new park in Luling- at least for now


October 29, 2008 at 9:10 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Residents living in the Willowdale and Lakewood subdivisions in Luling will have to wait a little longer before they have a new place to relax and play in their community after a grant fell through for Rathborne Park.

This year, the parish's grant application ranked six out of 19. The top four were chosen to receive the grant.
“The parish applied for a federal grant through the National Park Service this past April,” Holly Fonseca, Grants Officer for St. Charles Parish, said. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund grant would have provided funding of up to $150,000 per phase of development of the park with a required 100 percent match (in funding) from St. Charles Parish.”

The parish would have been able to match the funds because of subdivision fees collected from the developers of subdivisions near the park.
“St. Charles Parish's application was grouped with other applications that were applying for walking and jogging trails for this phase of the project and scoring purposes,” Fonseca said. “Applications with walking and jogging trails that were near waterways scored higher because one of the state's top recreational priorities is water recreational activities.”

Fonseca says the walking and jogging trails planned for Rathborne Park are not within viewing distance of waterways, so the project did not score as high as other projects and wasn't selected.

“Unfortunately, the Louisiana Office of State Parks (OSP) could only choose the top four statewide applications to forward to the National Park Service for federal approval,” she said. “What this means is that the parish has a very good chance of being awarded the grant during the next application cycle beginning in April 2009.”

In August, in an effort to continue seeking additional funding for park construction, the parish applied for a federal Recreational Trails Program grant through OSP. This grant would provide $100,000 towards the construction of the walking and jogging trail for Rathborne Park with a 20 percent match requirement from the parish.

“A decision will be made on this grant probably at the end of November,” Fonseca said. “If the parish is awarded this grant, we will still apply for the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant next April to fund the construction of additional elements in the park.”

Meanwhile, the parish has secured all of the necessary permits to begin clearing trees to make way for the park.
“District 2 Councilman Shelley Tastet has generously volunteered to clear the nonessential trees from the recreational end of the park, saving the parish thousands of dollars,” Fonseca said. “Residents living near the park site should see tree clearing activities beginning soon.”

The St. Charles Parish Recreation Department first released the concept plans for Rathborne Park during a public meeting held at Lakewood Elementary School this past April.




View other articles written By Shonna Riggs

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