Community Center expands number of free services offered to public

Residents can now use gym for basketball, walking during week

Since opening in 2013, the Edward Dufresne Community Center in Luling has gained a strong foothold with St. Charles Parish residents, with a growing number of people finding beneficial uses for the facility — and the parish aims to add more and more of the latter as time rolls on.

Since St. Charles Parish took occupancy of the building three years ago, the 30,000 square foot community center has seen an increasing number of local residents happy to utilize what it has to offer. In 2015, more than 45,000 people made use of the center, up from a mark of 30,000 in the previous year.

The facility, located at 274 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway, holds a 13,900 square foot gymnasium space and a 2,055 square foot meeting room space, which is offered for rental for private and nonprofit events.

“We plan to continue growing from here,” said community center coordinator Erica Mire.

As of last year, the community center has offered free use of the building’s gymnasium during its regular hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). When one arrives, he or she may sign in for free play on the basketball court or use the indoor walking track—the parish offers a “walking club” to join for parish residents to better make use of the latter. Once someone is finished, they sign out.

“People can use the gym in a number of ways,” said Mire.  “People will bring yoga mats, use the track, the basketball court … it’s a large enough space that can accommodate many different things.”

“I think it was definitely a need,” Mire said of the center. “Based on the population of the parish and the multi-functional aspect it provides us … in the past, we would have had to send our employees elsewhere for training, workshops, whereas now we can hold those things in the building. We’ve been able to rent space out and hold major events, and that’s something that brings an economic benefit (to St. Charles Parish).”

One example Mire gave was the international Biddy tournament the center hosted last year, which saw teams hailing from as far away as Finland compete. That was one of 280 parish hosted events that took place at the center last year.

“That’s money that stays in the parish, whereas before it would have gone elsewhere,” Mire said.

Mire said a community education program, similar to the one offered by the St. Charles Parish school system, is in the works.

“We’re trying to implement it,” Mire said. “We want to enlist instructors with skills in a trade, who maybe don’t have the resources to open a store or facility of their own. We’d like to offer a bridge, somewhere they can hold their courses.”

The facility hosts events like wedding receptions, private gatherings, job and craft fairs and company banquets for those who rent the space. It also boats a concession stand, full-service commercial kitchen and hosts several St. Charles Parish Department offices, including parks and recreation, the retired and senior volunteer program and community services.


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