New basketball court, workout equipment unveiled in Luling

Rathborne one of many park upgrades done in St. Charles

All of the ongoing renovations and upgrades to Rathborne Park aren’t quite finished yet, but the ones that are have been showing results already.

A new basketball court and fitness station are complete, and according to St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation Director Duane Foret, it’s brought some extra visitors to the Luling park.

“We still have a few (upgrades) left to go, but the basketball court is complete, the fitness pad is complete and we’re seeing an uptick in participation and visitors based on those two amenities,” Foret said. “Turnout has been very good.”

Those upgrades are part of a number of projects aimed at upgrading the parish’s parks and playgrounds. The additions to Rathborne Park include a baseball field, an outdoor basketball court, bleachers, a pavilion, picnic tables, bike racks and a batting cage. The fields (both existing and additional) and basketball courts will be lighted.

Additional parking is also being added.

The fitness station is similar to those at the East and West Bank Bridge parks and includes exercise equipment aimed, Foret said, at offering participants the opportunity to get a full body workout.

A new pavilion will be built that Foret said will provide  connectivity between park amenities.

“By being able to connect our amenities, people will still be able to enjoy it all after a rain event,” he said.  “It’s a chance to impact more people by having, for example, an outdoor basketball court and a fitness station. While your child’s playing ball or playing on a playground set, you can work out on the fitness pad.”

The work is scheduled to be completed in June.

Elsewhere, St. Charles Parish Councilman Billy Woodruff had long sought a playground for the children of the Paradis community, and thanks to a collaborative effort, his hope has become reality.

Paradis Park opened in March on land adjacent the St. Charles Parish Library’s Paradis branch at 307 Audubon St., centered around an area with playground equipment for young children. The effort was made possible by collaboration between the parish Department of Parks and Recreation and the parish Library Board.

“Paradis was the only community in St. Charles Parish without its own playground,” Woodruff said. “One thing I said I’d try to do is get them something in Paradis. I knew we didn’t have the funds to purchase land or do anything like that, but when I saw the extra land they had by the library, I sat down with (St. Charles Parish Library Director) Leann (Benedict) and (St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation Director) Duane (Foret) and tried to see if we could work together and get a playground there. And things just worked out.”

By using nearly an acre the parish already owns adjoining the library, the only major expense associated with the project was about $40,000 for equipment, said Woodruff, who represents the area.

Woodruff noted the only playground area in Paradis prior to that was at J.B. Martin Middle School, but that it is more geared toward older children and teens as it is used for soccer, baseball and football.

“When I was running for councilman, I had a lot of people approach me and ask about a playground,” Woodruff said. “There was nothing for the younger kids. Later on, I’ll try and work on something for the older kids. But right now, we’re kind of getting things started. It kind of combines the benefits of both the recreation department and the library. (The children) can go play out on the playground and then go in and use the library.”

He said feedback has been positive.

“Someone told me it’s working out real well for them, because in the past they’d have to go to one town to use the playground and another to use the computers at the library. To hook the two up was a big benefit to them.”

The Ormond Spray Park has opened for weekends through end of May from 1 to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Beginning June 5, it will be open for its normal schedule of 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Beginning the last week in August, Ormond Spray Park will be closed to the public on weekdays and remain open on weekends with normal hours. The park, at 1901 Ormond Blvd. in Destrehan, will close for the season in September.


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