St. Charles Parish officials showed off a $10.5 million community center that is designed to withstand 130 mile-per-hour winds and includes basketball and volleyball courts in addition to meeting rooms.
The 30,000-square-foot facility can also be used for events such as job fairs, craft fairs, town halls and small concerts. Members of the community will be able to rent out sections of the facility for wedding receptions, baby showers, car shows or meetings.
“I’m so proud to say today that we stand assured of the many good things that were set in motion thanks to the existence of the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “Because of the actions started, children will play on this court, special memories will be created at events held here and residents will receive much-needed services.”
The building, which includes 13,900 square feet of gym space and 2,100 square feet of meeting room space, will also be utilized as a shelter for certain emergency events and post-disaster recovery efforts. It’s capacity is 1,700 people, which will allow the center to be used for assisted evacuations. Previously, assisted evacuations took place outside in the heat.
While the facility cost $10.5 million to construct, 71 percent of the building ($7.95 million) was funded through state and federal grants.
The parish’s Recreation Department and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program will be housed in the community center and the Community Services Department will operate a satellite office out of the building.
The community center is named for Edward A. Dufresne Sr. and Judge Edward A. Dufresne Jr. The senior Dufresne was an innovator in the agricultural industry and owner of Esperanza Plantation. The junior Dufresne served as an elected official for the parish for more than 47 years and is known as the “Father of the Home Rule Charter.”
The Dufresne family donated the land the community center sits on.
Debra Dufresne Vial, the daughter of Judge Dufresne, said her father envisioned the community center as a place where residents could come together and celebrate, meet and enjoy family.
“A place that could serve to unite all of us,” she said. “That was his vision.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was on hand during the celebration, said the building serves as a great example of Louisiana’s determination to prepare for hurricanes.
“Here’s a message for Washington D.C.: We’ve done exactly what we were supposed to do after those hurricanes,” he said.
|Public officials and members of the Dufresne family prepare to cut the ribbon on the new Luling community center.|