Monroe City Council approves architect to revitalize parks and community centers

Three parks and several community centers in Monroe will soon have a facelift.

The Monroe City Council unanimously approved the expenditure of $200,000 to retain the services of a landscape architect to develop master plans to revitalize three parks within the city limits at its Tuesday meeting.

The city will enter into a professional services agreement with Baton Rouge-based CARBO Landscape Architecture. The company is expected to submit master plans for Chennault Park, Forsythe Park and Charles Johnson Park.

“The idea is to look at the three largest parks here in the city and look at them holistically so we can speak to the community,” said Shannon Blakeman, managing partner of CARBO Landscape Architecture. “Engage the community on what they want to see in these parks and work together to create a short and long term master plan, taking into account some of the things that are already planned for these parks. How can we integrate these things in and maybe also do other things to really elevate these parks based on the feedback we got from the community.”

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Blakeman said the company will also visit smaller city parks for any improvements that can be made.

Councilor Juanita Woods asked if the Chennault golf course would be included in the park’s master plan, particularly because the golf course, which is currently in poor condition, is used by several local organizations, including the Twin City Golfers Association. Robert Clark of the Twin City Golfers Association raised concerns about the golf course early in the meeting.

“There are a lot of dollars generated at Chennault Park and I think we can generate even more if we make major improvements to the golf course,” Woods said.

“Certainly,” Blakeman said. “We will speak with Mr. Clark and anyone else interested.”

The board has also agreed to enter into a professional services agreement with Manning, APC, a New Orleans-based firm, to conduct a facilities assessment of the city’s seven community centers.

“Of course, in the 1960s, our ancestors thought enough of the city of Monroe to give us not one, not two, not three, but seven community centers,” said Patience Talley, director of community centers and programs for Monroe City. “Because this was in the 1960s, you can only imagine the trials we have recently seen in our community centers.”

Several of the centers housed hundreds of residents displaced during the winter storms of 2021, as well as residents of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes during Hurricane Ida. Talley said air conditioning units at all seven community centers broke down over the summer.

“I think it would be fair to say that because all of our centers are located in these traditionally underserved communities, we hope that these types of improvements or at least this information will allow us to attract funds for our community centers and to continue to offer the programs we currently offer,” said Talley.

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