Joint agreement considered for MLK Center

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The possibility of a joint service agreement between the City of Lake Charles and Ward Three Recreation Board that would allow

the Martin Luther King Recreation Center to be managed by the recreation board was discussed at a community meeting Monday

night at the MLK center.

The meeting was organized by city council member Mary Morris.

“We are letting the people know so that

they can add input and give their concerns and their issues and address

those things,”

Morris said. “If it is something that they want to do, then they

will vote for the tax to be redone so MLK can be a part of

Ward 3.”

Morris said an agreement with Ward 3 could benefit the area if it brings improvements seen at other facilities operated by

the board.

“If we are looking at what they have

for Enos Darbonne Recreation Center and the Power Center, those are

all-inclusive recreation

districts,” she said.

“They have done a lot of things for children and older people. We want those same things here. I see it as a positive if they

are going to do it. If they are going to put some money into the district, and create an all-inclusive recreation district

as they have for other districts, I would support it.”

Ralph Lewing, the city’s liaison to the Ward 3 board, said capital and program improvements at the facility are the goal.

“We want to develop recreation at Martin Luther King as we have the other facilities,” he said.

“From our initial evaluation, our

initial budget for capital improvements at Martin Luther King is

$1,350,000. Some of the

things we would include in that would be an outdoor walking track,

renovate the gym facility, the dressing rooms, exercise

rooms, renovate the meeting rooms, renovate concession stands,

improve the baseball fields, look at the possibility of adding

two ball field. Our improvements are built around our program

needs.

“If given the opportunity and if

citizens of this area feel comfortable with this endeavor, I think we

would be a plus for

this area. About 3 years ago we worked with a group to help get

the North Lake Charles Little League going again. 160 kids

play baseball here now. That is what it is all about. You’ve got

15,000 kids north of Broad Street. We are not touching enough

of them. We have to get the children involved, get the parents

involved, the grandparents involved. We have programs for 2-85

years old.”

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said the city would continue to provide community programs at the MLK center if it agreed to

allow the Ward 3 board to manage and operate it.

“What we are looking at is to continue the partnership over the next 10 years and to expand upon facilities and to use the

combined resources of the city and Ward 3 in order to enhance recreation in the district,” he said.

“We don’t intend to abandon our responsibility, we will continue to provide programming. One of the programs I think we have

done a real good job of the past several years is the summer feeding program. That’s something we would continue, under a

cooperative agreement.”