Sports complex's future dim after tax fails
WATSON - A sports complex in Livingston Parish will struggle to survive after voters turned down a tax renewal Saturday.
The renewal would have lasted ten years and provided $850,000 a year to maintain and improve the Live Oak Sports Complex. People who use the complex say it offers much more than a place to play a game. Live Oak High School softball coach Michelle Morris says the school's baseball and softball teams call the complex home.
"We need it. It is vital to the community growth," she said. "It is vital to our high school and our softball and baseball programs, and we definitely need the renewal so we can continue a great complex here at Live Oak."
Dana Rushing grew up playing ball at the complex, and his children did the same. Rushing says he's surprised that voters shot down the tax renewal.
"It's not just a baseball game or a softball game, but other sports and businesses benefit when they have tournaments here," he said. "The whole community benefits. It helps with the property value. Everybody's worried about their home values, and this helps enhance that."
The sports complex provides youth sports leagues, and park organizers wanted to provide more in the future. Since the tax failed the sports complex will call off all new projects, according to Parks and Recreation District 2 board Chairman Ken Graves.
Graves said the board planned to break ground on a new concession pavilion in January, and plans were to expand the property for biking and jogging trails. The tax renewal would have kept enough money to pay for day-to-day operations like cutting the grass or paying the water bill, but without the money the park could shut down after next year.
"Seeing this place shut down would hurt the pride of the community. As a property, it's a great piece of property that would be blight. It would not only have problems here, the kids who play here would be out on the streets, and that's not a good thing," said Rushing.
"To end a season and not know are you going to have a field to field that team to have quality play on, it puts you at a loss," said Morris.
Graves says the board is now on a "save our park" campaign to get the tax renewal on a special election in the spring. People involved with the sports complex hope voters will give the renewal a green light next time.