Construction on a number of new taxpayer-funded school athletics facilities in Denham Springs will begin later this year.
Preliminary plans call for a new track around the Denham Springs High School football field, a baseball field, a softball field and a field house using $13 million from a bond renewal that Livingston voters in School District No. 1 approved in April.
Construction on the first project — the softball and baseball fields — will begin this summer and finish in time for next year's baseball and softball season. Construction of the track and field house will begin in October and should finish by fall of 2022, said Cecil Harrs, who represents part of Denham Springs on the Livingston School Board.
"It's something that's been needed for a long time," Harris said. "We have no facilities. We've been using Department of Recreation (fields) for 30-some-odd years for baseball and softball. We have no track. It’s just needed for the overall morale and the spirit of our school and for the athletic program."
The 8.64-mill tax was first put in place in 2007 to construct Juban Parc Elementary and Juban Parc Junior High and was renewed to borrow $13 million over 20 years for the athletics facilities.
New tennis courts could also be built with the money, depending on the costs of the planned projects, Harris said.
The proposition received 76% of the vote, or 1,752 for it and 565 against. Turnout for the April 24 election was 8.3%.
"It's just something that's needed for the school," Harris said, "and people in the community are real good supporters of that."
Harris called it an "all-hands-on-deck effort" for the school system to pass the proposition, which he expects will provide a lifetime investment in Denham Springs sports.
"We did podcasts, we did mailings, we did the things that most campaigns do," Harris said. "The big thing was having support on the ground floor and getting the message out."
Harris said the construction marks the first time in 65 years that Denham Springs High has seen an investment in sports facilities.