Community Center hours extended

Gym will be open until 7:30 Mondays, Wednesdays

After use of the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center increased by approximately 7,000 people from 2015 to 2016, St. Charles Parish decision-makers are aiming to keep that number on the rise.One way it’s attempting to do so is by extending the hours of availability of the Community Center’s gym, a change that has gone into effect and will remain through the end of June. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the gym now remains open until 7:30 p.m. Previously, it closed at 4 p.m.

The change came near the end of basketball season, said Duane Foret, St. Charles Parish Director of Parks and Recreation, noting his department saw a chance to encourage more use of the facility.

“We just saw a need,” Foret said. “We felt we weren’t reaching a lot of kids as far as older teens and young adults … and even some adults, I’d say, and we thought we could do something toward changing that. If you look at our youth program, it’s strong, as well as our adult programs, senior programs and programs for special athletes. This was one segment of our population we felt we weren’t impacting in a significantly positive way.”

Foret said the department attempted to make a basketball league for young adults ages 15-24, but the interest was not high enough to push forward with it.

Opening the building for more “free play” on the court, he believes, could accomplish the goals they set out for within that age group.

“Everybody likes to shoot a basketball,” Foret said. “It doesn’t have to be in a competitive setting. When you’re growing up, you might have a goal or there’s a goal down the street and you just go shoot.”

He noted the health benefits that come with running up and down the court, but also pointed out the interpersonal growth young males and females can build by playing together or competing on the basketball court.

“It’s a way for some of these young adults to learn how to resolve conflict,” he said. “If you can start talking things out on the basketball court and settle a conflict without physical altercations, well, maybe that can translate into your neighborhood, your community and parish-wide.”

Foret also said that this is a good time of year to try the change. The parish has a volleyball program that runs from August to November, then basketball from December to mid-March. The next major sport season is baseball and softball, which are outdoor activities.

“We wanted to offer something to keep the center utilized,” Foret said. “It’s a multi-use facility. Foot traffic picked up last year … we had 12 rentals in 2015 and ramped that up to 33 in 2016. 45,000 came through the doors in 2015 and in 2016, it was 52,000. We’re constantly trying to increase the patrons that utilize this facility. We’ve heard requests and we wanted to answer those.

“Monday’s have started a little slow but Wednesdays are extremely busy. This may lead to see where we may need to adjust and extend our office hours to serve our public more.”

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