Quality of life plan explored at Ascension Parish Council meeting

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Ascension Parish Council members listen to a speaker during the Oct. 7 meeting at the courthouse in Donaldsonville. Shown from left are Aaron Lawler, Dal Waguespack, John Cagnolatti, and Michael Mason.

Kimberly McDaniel of engineering and consulting firm Fenstermaker presented a "Quality of Life Master Plan" to the Ascension Parish Council during its Nov. 18 meeting in Gonzales.

The presentation included several potential parish projects and possible grant funding sources.

McDaniel went over several slides in the presentation, including:

Downtown Donaldsonville: The parish has aspirations to enhance the westbank city's historic downtown area with regular nightlife events and wayfinding signs.

The armory building: The facility located in front of the Ascension Parish Courthouse in Donaldsonville has an estimated cost of $1.5 million for renovations. It would cost about $400,000 to run the facility annually.

The building could be used as an educational space, computer lab, workforce training center, and a wellness and fitness center.

It could also be utilized as a shelter during hurricanes and floods.

Job training at Donaldsonville High School: Several state and federal programs could fund a job training program on the west side of the parish.

Early childhood education center: This facility is currently under construction at the site of the former West Ascension Elementary School.

Recreation improvements in west Ascension: McDaniel went over three potential additions - a shaded structure and tree canopy at the existing Donaldsonville splash pad, an airnasium on the fairgrounds, and a skate and bike park.

Gateway to the Mississippi River: A gateway area could enhance the levee paths on both the east and west sides of Ascension Parish.

Additions could include: bike racks, rest areas, sidewalks, and interactive play stations.

Health and Wellness Outreach: Activities could include exercise classes, cooking lessons, nutrition and diet courses, mental health education, and seasonal activities.

Parishwide infrastructure improvements: LED upgrades to outdoor recreation lighting and ADA compliance initiatives for parks, playgrounds, and other parish-owned facilities.

Recreation improvements in east Ascension: Boat launch and trails in Keystone Park, and dog park with dry detention.

Prairieville Park Expansion: Proposed improvements include the community center, gym, and new parking.