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Welsh residents speak out about park upkeep

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:00 PM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

WELSH — Some Welsh parks are not being kept up, and one resident is taking notice.

Paul Achan, who lives next to Richmond Park, lodged complaints Tuesday about the lack of upkeep and deteriorating conditions at Bethune and Richmond parks, saying the two neighborhood parks are not being taken care of as well as the town’s larger Sportsman Park.

“The Parks and Recreation Department has a budget, but 98 to 99 percent of the budget is spent at Sportsman’s Park,” Achan said. “If 98 to 99 percent of the budget is spent on Sportsman, is Bethune and Richmond in name only and don’t get any funding?”

He said the last activity Richmond Park had was three years ago. “Since then nothing gets done,” he said. “The grass gets cut, but that’s it.”

Achan complained about safety at Richmond Park, saying the walking trail is dilapidated, with concrete crumbling. A rail is falling, exposing sharp, rusty edges; the backstop is falling down; and there is erosion under the sidewalks, he said.

Bethune Park has basketball courts, but there are no basketball nets or backs for the basketball goals, he said. Achan also complained that restrooms at the parks are always locked.

“There’s kids out there playing,” he said. “If they have to go to the restroom, they have to go to the bushes. ... The last time I checked it is illegal to urinate in public.”

Mayor Carolyn Louviere said the restrooms at all three parks are kept locked to prevent vandalism. They are opened when needed, she said.

“If nobody is there to watch what is going on, they get destroyed and that’s why they have to stay closed,” Adlerwoman Becky Hudson said.

Recreation Director Michelle Ramagos said she has tried to leave the restrooms open, but that vandals destroyed the toilets, causing the restrooms to flood, and poured paint down the toilets at Richmond Park.

Louviere said the town works hard to keep the parks up “to the best of our ability.”

“We’re a small town, and have three parks to keep up with,” she said. “We do the best we can with the money we have and will work with anybody.”

Alderman Charles Drake said the town tried to pass a recreation tax in April to increase funding for parks and recreation.

“The tax didn’t pass, so the funding is limited,” Drake said. “There’s nothing we can do now, but pray and hope for the best. We could have done a lot with that tax, but the people voted it down.”

Louviere said more volunteers are needed to help maintain the parks and organize activities for children.

“We are small and don’t have a lot of money,” Alderman Allen Ardoin said. “We have two parks within an eighth of a mile of each other. Perhaps we need to think about closing one down and concentrate on the other two.”

Gloria Viney, a former alderwoman, said she walks in Richmond Park every day and has seen the lack of respect park users have. It is clean some days and not others, she said. She has had to brush off broken glass from the walking path and has seen boards from the dugout being taken.

“We have to teach our children to keep up with what we have,” Viney said.

Achan said he picks up trash every morning at Richmond Park.

Ardoin said there are problems with litter at all the parks.

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