DOYLINE — The project of a park at the site of the former Union school in Doyline can now move forward.
Upon the signing of a joint cooperative endeavor agreement between the Village of Doyline and the Webster Parish School Board, Mayor Gary Carter says the village wants to construct a public place where the community can gather.
“Doyline has been in desperate need of a recreation center of some nature,” he said. “We’ve wanted to put some picnic tables there and make a park out of it. It would give us a nice facility there where we could have our National Night Out for the village. Besides giving something back to the community, it’s giving something that doesn’t really cost anything.”
Some of the ideas, he says, are to construct a walking track, possibly around the perimeter, and playground equipment for the children.
Carter says it’s been a project in discussion for about a year and a half, and at first, he wanted to see if the school board would be willing to donate the property to the village. The board agreed to a 50-year lease with the option to renew it for another 50 years in its February meeting.
The mayor says part of the reason the issue took so long was the lack of communication between parties; however, he said he met with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls on the issue some months ago.
Rawls says it’s just waiting for the mayor’s signature to finalize the agreement.
“The board has offered in kind, where the village provides fire service and police service and in view of what they give us, we’re going to let them use the property for a park,” Rawls said, adding they can build whatever they want.
Rebecca Shelley-Sherrard, who has been involved with the discussion, says they’ve needed a place for community gatherings.
“It would be a slow start, but something that would get our people back out together,” she said. “We would like to have things like a community garden, so that we could grow something and let the people come and get what they need. There are a lot of urban areas that do community gardens, and it gets people out.”
She says when she ran for the district 12 police jury seat, many told her they wanted some type of community center where churches that didn’t have the space could hold gatherings, or have a place for senior citizens to gather.
Carter says they will start small, with the picnic tables and pavilions as well as the possibility of the walking track.
Shelley-Sherrard says now the issue is going to be funding.
“We know we’re not going to get much from the state right now because there’s no money,” she said. “We were trying to find someone that will help us with financing.”