Growth in Ascension Parish during the past generation has been phenomenal, as families flock to the parish to take advantage of its public school system.

That’s meant a big increase in the number of youngsters in Ascension, and the parish’s recreation facilities and programs simply haven’t kept up with the growth.

That’s why we support a millage proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot that would dramatically expand parks and recreation opportunities in Ascension. We urge Ascension residents to vote yes.

The proposal, if approved, would levy a 5-mill property tax for 10 years, generating about $5.1 million per year. Proceeds would fund an ambitious — and necessary — plan to radically upgrade parks and recreation facilities. Among the highlights: a new sports complex, including a greatly expanded set of soccer, baseball, softball and football fields, and six additional basketball and volleyball courts; a theater for the performing arts; and four new water “spray” parks in Donaldsonville, Geismar, Dutchtown/Prairieville and St. Amant.

The recreation plan also would create miles of new walking and jogging trails. More information about the plan is available at

The tax would equal about $5 per month for the average homeowner in the parish. As Ami Clouatre-Johnson, a member of the citizens’ advisory group that developed the plan, pointed out, that’s a modest investment, considering how much many parents spend on video games for their kids.

And spending on opportunities for exercise and the performing arts is a much better way to encourage alternatives to sitting on the couch.

Clouatre-Johnson said many Ascension families are spending lots of time in the car seeking better recreation options in neighboring Baton Rouge. The Nov. 4 tax would allow Ascension residents to offer a wealth of recreational opportunities closer to home. That would be a win for families and for quality of life within the parish.

Currently, there’s no dedicated funding for recreation in Ascension Parish. Parish government now allots a fluctuating amount of money for recreation out of its general fund. The amount allocated last year was $2.5 million, a modest amount considering the parish’s needs.

To continue to prosper, Ascension Parish needs a recreation program that reflects 21st-century realities.

We hope voters approve the recreation tax on the Nov. 4 ballot.