St. Charles Parish Council approves agreement for Ed Reed playground

It took some negotiating, but the St. Charles Parish Council came to a much welcomed agreement with the Elkinsville Cemetery Association and Ed Reed Foundation that will create a long desired playground.

“This will serve a badly needed area of St. Rose,” said Councilman Larry Cochran, whose District 5 includes the project, at Monday’s council meeting. Cochran said it’s an area he has long sought to revitalize.

Describing the area “as practically a recreation desert,” parish Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said the foundation approached the parish about finding land for the playground. The agreement is the parish will provide an access road and sewer while the foundation would “build everything above ground,” including design the park with parish assistance.

“We think this is manageable,” Boe said. “We felt this was a really easy way to add recreational area without significant cost.”

With unanimous council approval, Cochran said the Ed Reed Foundation can hire an architect to begin construction. While the lease agreement needs Parish President V.J. St. Pierre’s signature, it is expected to be finalized by mid-June.

The council signed off on a lease with the Elkinsville Cemetery Association for $1 a year for 40 years, negotiated down from $500 a month.

Glenn Younes, executive director for the Ed Reed Foundation, said change was agreed to once it was understood the parish would maintain the park.

“We are so very happy, after this amount of time, to be one step closer to providing the families and the children of St. Rose with a safe public park and playground for them to enjoy and prosper within,” Younes said.  “We don’t just want to affect the public of today, but multiple generations for a hundreds of years to come.”

Retired professional football player Ed Reed, a native of old St. Rose, understands firsthand how important a playground will help to positively affect the children who live there, has been trying through his foundation for the past four years to make this project a reality in his old neighborhood.

Calling himself a “park baby,” Reed recalled what having a park meant to him growing up in St. Rose.

“It’s much needed, and I’m thrilled to build this park for the community,” he said. “A park should be in all communities for children to escape the streets. If not, the streets can take our youths in the wrong direction. I’m a park baby. There is no way I’m able to do this if it wasn’t for my dad bringing me to the park when I was young. This park will provide the children of our community a safe place to play. Thank God for this blessing.”

According to Younes, “Ed knows these streets, because he grew up in them. He knows without something like this to give these kids the opportunity to thrive and flourish in a positive way, they’re options become pretty limited.” Reed has been giving back to St. Charles Parish for many years with a football camp he sponsors every June in Destrehan and now work can begin on the park.The area along Second, Third and Fourth streets, and Short Street in St. Rose will eventually have basketball courts, a lighted walking track, public restrooms and play area for children.

Councilwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier said she was impressed with the foundation’s fast response to resolving concerns that helped finalize the project, as well as Reed’s generosity, adding, she is “very happy he’s willing to give back to our parish.”

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