$300K Ashton soccer park is in development in Luling

St. Charles Parish is advertising for bids for the construction of a parking lot for the Ashton Park Development in Luling, which will provide two soccer fields to be used by the parish’s recreation department.

Some $300,000 has been budgeted for the full park development project, which St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation Director Duane Foret said will allow the recreation department to better serve those interested in participating in soccer.

Foret said that the department’s soccer program has had limitations since the expansion of J.B. Martin Middle School eliminated two fields the department had utilized for the sport.

“We realized the level of service we could provide for soccer wasn’t where we needed it to be,” Foret said. “We thought the soccer fields would be best suited for this site. We want the park to be easily accessible from the surrounding neighborhoods and to remain a green, attractive area for people to see.”

Foret said the parish was donated close to 9.2 acres in the area for park development, and that the open land was a perfect place for the soccer fields to land.

The parking lot is phase one of the development project. The phase also includes construction of a temporary restroom facility.

“We’re working on getting additional funding for a permanent structure,” Foret said, noting it would include restrooms and a concession stand with electricity and plumbing to support the structure.

The parking lot will have 66 total spaces for vehicles. Bidding for construction will open on Sept. 17.

The project is part of the recreation master plan that calls for large-scale, strategically located community parks while eliminating some undersized, underutilized recreational sites in neighborhoods.

Approved in 2013, the Parish Council intended the plan to guide the park system for the next 20 years.

To achieve an integrated system of connected community parks and open spaces, the master plan also calls for the creation of a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths and trails.

However, forming such a network will be challenging because the only major trails that exist today are levee paths.

Other recommendations included instituting a citizen advisory board to guide recreational planning decisions, as well as coming up with a system to accurately track facilities usage.

A report released before the master plan’s finalization identified the parish’s biggest challenge as ensuring that all parks are integrated into a system that provides equitable recreational access to all residents.

Along with the committee, the parish also hosted several community meetings to gather suggestions for the master plan. Instituting a citizen advisory board will be crucial to make the goals outlined in the master plan happen.

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