The next phase of construction kicked off Friday at BREC’s Zachary Community Park with a groundbreaking ceremony that featured BREC and Zachary officials, children attending a summer camp at the park and residents from the community.

BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said the construction will include $730,000 worth of new park additions: a playground and equipment, and pavilions, benches and fitness stations.

“The playground will be the centerpiece of this next phase of construction and will feature a ‘mega tower’ with three stories of fun and adventure,” McKnight said. “Surrounding the tower will be shaded areas with plenty of spaces to sit and picnic as well as two pavilions.”

In a section of the playground, three types of swings will be featured: regular, tot and inclusive.

The new playground will have a merry-go-round with beautification and safety features such as new concrete path paving, decorative paving, site furnishings, safe landing surfaces, landscaping and lighting.

“These new amenities will spark an interest in the Zachary community and in an already exciting park for the next phase BREC has planned for the playground. Though not currently funded, the phase will include a play area for children ages 2 to 5 with inclusive elements, which we hope to work with a private partner in order to get that built,” McKnight said.

Besides the playground, a splash pad will be built once the project is approved by the Department of Health and Hospitals and the BREC Commission. Amenities will include splash pad furnishings and equipment, additional concrete path paving, decorative paving, picnic shelters, site furnishings, landscaping and more lighting.

“By this time next year, my commitment to you is that these little ones can come out to this park with plans to get wet,” McKnight said Friday.

Construction on the splash pad is expected to begin in the fall and projected to be completed by next spring.

Both projects at the 43-acre park are being funded by BREC’s Imagine Your Parks 2 strategic plan (2015-2024), which was approved by the BREC Commission last year, McKnight said.

Located at 20055 Old Scenic Highway, Zachary Community Park already features a dog park, skate park, sand volleyball court, outdoor basketball court, concrete walking loops, a lake for kayaks or paddle boats, a small pond for fishing and a small pavilion. It is one of 12 parks in East Baton Rouge Parish that were the focus of BREC’s Imagine Your Parks 1 strategic plan (2004-2014).

BREC community parks like Zachary’s, such as City-Brooks, Greenwood and Independence, serve more people than smaller, neighborhood parks like Baker Park, Church Street and Plank Road, but are so abundant in amenities, a family could spend the entire day there, BREC officials said.

Mayor David Amrhein said he is thrilled for work to begin and that a project like this is exciting because it helps grow and better the Zachary community. “This is a fantastic facility,” he said.

Russell Coleman Contracting, Inc. was awarded the construction bid for the park.