Mayor Ed Reeves said the improvements to the Plaquemine North Park in the Turnerville area of the city has already started, but will gear up with the new year.
He said the park is much more open and airy, now that the canopy of the trees has been cleared away by city workers.
Other improvements include covering much of the grounds with wood mulch and a much nicer and larger piece of playground equipment than currently is at the park.
The equipment is expected to cost about $200,000, although the city’s portion is only half of that amount. Game Time Equipment, the company that will supply the equipment, will match the city’s contribution.
More tables will be added to the park as well.
“All of these improvements will make the park nicer for the residents around it and more inviting to everyone in the city,” Reeves said.
The park is at the north end of a project the mayor first proposed to the Board of Aldermen shortly after taking office, a riverside overview near the Plaquemine Lock.
Walkways will traverse the levee north and south of the lock for 1.3 miles and the North Plaquemine Park is the northern end. The southern end will be near a proposed park on Eden Street, not far from Belleview Road.
“Like I promised while I was campaigning, one of my goals was to improve the city’s parks, which had been largely neglected before I was elected,” Reeves said.
The comprehensive project includes a riverfront park on the levee in front of the Plaquemine Lock, although the observation decks for it will be out of the sightline of the lock, the city’s most visited tourist attraction.
“The lookouts will be out of the sightline for the lock because we want to keep that facility separate,” Reeves said. The plaza that will serve as the centerpiece for the park will be lighted and include benches.
“I proposed the project when I first took office in January and everybody sees the value of it,” he said.
“We’ve already met with the Corps of Engineers,” Reeves said. “They know it’s coming. We went to New Orleans and had a two or three hour meeting with them and they were very receptive to the idea.”
Many towns up and down the Mississippi River either have or are planning similar projects, “so the concept was nothing new to them,” he continued.
The Board of Aldermen has approved about $600,000 in improvements in all to Plaquemine’s park system. Some of that money will come from Game Time Company, which will match the city’s contribution for any playground equipment the board approves.
“Game Time will match whatever the city puts into, so if we put $100,000 into it, we’ll actually get $200,000 worth of equipment,” Reeves said.
While some towns and cities along the Mississippi River have or are planning similar projects, the mayor said some of them have had problems with property owners who have protested having the parks or walkways in front of their property.
“We’ve already met with all of them and all but two have so far approved our plan,” Reeves said, adding he is optimistic the holdouts will go along with the city’s plan soon.