Construction is now underway on St. Julien Park, a massive $27 million-plus public sports complex being built on 122 acres of land that when completed will offer something outdoorsy for just about everyone.
The park is one of three projects ongoing or planned that lie close to each other and offers a glimpse into the investments being made in a city with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.
“This is a big, big deal,” Broussard Mayor Charlie Langlinais said, referring to the projects. He said that all the economic growth in Broussard in the last 15 years pales compared to what’s ongoing and what’s in the planning stages now.
The park, located off St. Nazaire Road, will offer a variety of venues: baseball and softball fields with batting cages and practice fields for both, volleyball courts, basketball courts both indoors and out, and tennis courts.
Also planned or in the process of being built are concessionaire facilities, an amphitheater, fishing ponds, walking trails, an ultimate Frisbee course, a recreational center with an upstairs track and downstairs basketball courts and meeting rooms.
“To give you an idea of how big it’s going to be, it’s going to have a million square feet of artificial turf,” Langlinais said.
Planned for construction in three phases — phase two goes out to bid next week — Langlinais expects the complex to be completed sometime in 2016, barring periods of heavy rains when cement foundations are scheduled to be poured.
Trahan Construction, of Lake Arthur, in October started phase one of the complex, which includes the soccer field concessions facility and a maintenance building. Trahan Construction built the Youngsville Sports Complex, which opened in May 2014.
Last week, Broussard’s director of parks and recreation, Jack Hains, was in a trailer that serves as the project management office for St. Julien Park construction. Also inside were Trahan Construction supervisors, who Thursday morning had to send home workers who showed up to pour the cement foundation for one of the buildings. Heavy rainfall Wednesday had soaked the ground and put things on hold for a bit, a delay Hains said is part of construction.
Hains also said the cost of the park when it’s finished will probably exceed its $27 million price tag, perhaps rising to $32 million by the time the final invoices are paid.
In a November 2011 election, 57 percent of Broussard residents who voted OK’d the half-cent sales tax dedication to the park, according to Louisiana election results. There is no sunset date on the tax, meaning half a penny on each dollar spent on taxable goods from now on in Broussard will fund construction and maintenance costs of St. Julien.
“It’s not going to stop because of a lack of money,” said Hains, who was the West Feliciana Parish assistant director of parks and recreation until Broussard hired him in 2013.
Langlinais said the City Council, whose members joined Langlinais to break ground at the site in October, approved building the park to improve residents’ quality of life.
Less than a mile to the west of the park is the site where Alabama developer Blackwater Resources plans to build Acadian Crossing, a $60 million retail center.
Broussard council members in January approved widening St. Etienne Road, which runs along the back of where the center will sit, and other infrastructure improvements.
City spokeswoman Amy Jones said Broussard engineers have estimated it will cost $2.5 million for improvements that include widening St. Etienne from two to three lanes, building two roads through the shopping center to connect St. Etienne to U.S. 90, and installing drainage culverts.
Entergy power lines also will have to be moved, which utility engineers have started planning, Langlinais said.
Langlinais said Blackwater Resources’ timetable has the first stores opening in summer 2016.
Vehicle access to the park and shopping zone will be improved when the state Department of Transportation and Development completes work on a 1.6 mile section of U.S. 90.
Currently, highway contractor James Construction is widening the thoroughfare from two lanes to three lanes in each direction.
The $57.1 million in highway construction improvements also includes building an overpass at the intersection of U.S. 90 with Albertson’s Parkway.
Last year DOTD spokesperson Deidra Druilet said last year the project’s scheduled completion was summer 2017. Efforts Friday to contact Druilet for an update were unsuccessful.