City officials are hopeful that next year’s Independence Day celebration will be held in an upgraded and renovated Crescent Park.

Officials and the city’s Downtown Development District held a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday to mark the most recent phase of the funding approval process for the long-awaited park project.

Sen. Troy Brown, D-Geismar, said $870,000 is earmarked in the state capital outlay fund for work on the park, which dates back to the founding of the city.

Plans call for a new pavilion and stage, a paved seating area and an entrance way connecting the park with recent upgrades to the Mississippi River levee.

Eric Poche, with SJB Group, said community meetings were held to get public input on what residents wanted to see at the park, which sits across the street from the levee.

The money was approved two years ago as a priority four project, Brown said.

“We’ve got everything approved now, and the money is set to come to the city later this year,” Brown said.

Poche said the final plan will be sent to state officials later this month, and the project should be advertised for construction bids in October. He said construction should start before the end of the year and the improvements should be in place for the city’s annual fireworks celebration July 3.

Crescent Park’s unusual semicircle design was part of the 1806 city plans proposed by William Donaldson and designed into the street plans by Bartholemew Lafon, DDD Executive Director Missy Jandura said. Crescent Park borders the Mississippi River and runs perpendicular to Bayou Lafourche.

The park was used as a farmers market in the early 1900s and later as a community park. It was last renovated in 1997, Jandura said.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan said the park is located in close proximity to many residents and used by area children and families.

He said plans call for the park project to “be a continuation of the riverfront project that added paving, lighting and benches to the levee.”

“This park plan has been 10 years in the making, and we’re glad to finally be ready to see it come to fruition,” Sullivan said.

Jandura said she was recently told that the city’s National Parks Service grant has been approved to pave some 2,000 additional feet of walkways atop the levee.

“Things are really happening for the positive,” Jandura said.