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 www.ascensionrec.org.

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.