Several Winnsboro parks are in dire need of refurbishing, a point that was brought out in Franklin Parish Police Jury’s agenda meeting Feb. 5 and a focus point for the Winnsboro Main Street Economic Development Committee.
To combat park blight, Police Jury officials along with recreation committee members will start a priority list to improve the Ester Credit Memorial and Rollins parks.
The two parks suffer from vandalism and unfinished projects. Fifteen pallets of cinder block along with lumber wait for a student study center at Ester Credit Memorial Park that never materialized. Rollins Park is sometimes littered with trash and drug paraphernalia.
Newly-elected Police Juror, Keiona Wesby, who is on the recreation committee, wants to start fresh with the parks including possible new park supervisors for the two Winnsboro parks. Jurors Leodis Norman and Ricky Campbell are also on the recreation committee.
“I’m at a loss already, but God knows I am going to do what I can to try to get these parks going,” Wesby said. “My preference is to have everything took off because there is nothing I can do with the material there.”
Wesby wants to return material to “salvage what we can.” The materials, especially the lumber, have been damaged from the elements.
“Right now those parks that are in my district are in deplorable condition,” Wesby said. “As horrible as it sounds, my park at Rollins is used for sex and substance abuse. Let’s be clear, that is what my park is used for. My kids can’t enjoy that park. My adults can’t walk on that park for exercise because you are walking over beer bottles, used condoms and nobody wants to see that.”
Upkeep was one of Wesby’s major concerns.
“I took pictures of Rollins Saturday,” Wesby said. “There is a cinder block building that I am scared to go in. It is horrible. There is no upkeep and that is why I have a concern about a supervisor that is collecting funds.”
Park supervisors work during summer months and are responsible for keeping the parks clean.
Andrew Ellis will remain park supervisor for Nolan Norman Park, located south of Wisner, Norman said. The park hosts sporting events and community events throughout the year.
Along with the Police Jury recreation committee, a Franklin Parish group is also developing an improvement plan.
Ester Credit and Rollins parks are a focus area with Winnsboro Main Street Economic Development committee. The committee wants to organize improvements for each park along with developing a comprehensive plan to expand Civitan Park’s walking trail as a step towards helping Winnsboro become a walking and biking friendly community.
“We are in a rebuilding phase,” Wesby said. “We are starting at ground zero.”