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West Feliciana Parish Sports Park


A 10-foot wide plaza and small bleachers are built behind home plate of the baseball/softball fields.

By Sean Stowell, LASN regional editor

With the Mississippi River to the west leaving deep soil deposits and several creeks running through it to create expanses of rugged treed terrain, West Feliciana Parish was once an area that became extremely valuable to the cotton and timber industries. Today the parish of nearly 13,000, located just south of the Louisiana-Mississippi border, is a largely agrarian place. With over 140 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, including antebellum plantations such as Rosedown Plantation, Audobon's Oakley Plantation, the area has become a tourist destination.

While many tourists may flock to these destinations the locals have a new place they like to gather called the West Feliciana Parish Sports Park. Phase one of the project was completed last summer and includes eight baseball diamonds, a concession and restroom building, four outdoor basketball courts, four tennis courts and two soccer fields. The 135-acre site also features six miles of nature trails. Approximately 85 acres is flat land and the remaining 50 acres are bottom land. Ninety acres will be developed for active recreation while 48 acres will be left undisturbed for nature trails.

The 85 flat acres sit on original cotton fields of the Rosedown Plantation. The plantation came to be when Daniel Turnbull, a wealthy cotton broker, made a group of seven purchases from the 1820s through the 1840s. Today the Office of State Parks preserves the main house, historic gardens and 13 historic buildings and 371 remaining acres as a state historic site. The State Parks staff and volunteers conduct tours and programs to illustrate plantation life in the 1800s.


Around the pavilion plaza, Drake elms are planted to provide shade.

According to Jose Barro, ASLA, the project manager for the West Feliciana Parish Sports Park and a landscape architect with SJB Group, Inc., located in Baton Rouge, a second phase to the project will be starting up soon.

"In the original design, there are to be three quads of baseball/softball diamonds and two have already been built," Barro said. "The two soccer fields and the tennis courts have been built as have the basketball courts. In the next phase, two of those basketball courts will be under a canopy and a recreation center will be built."

He added that a 4-H Club Pavilion is included in the master plan, but that building will be constructed in the last phase of the project. In all the completed facility will include 12 soccer fields, one multi-purpose/football field, 12 baseball/softball fields, four basketball courts, two tennis courts, a shooting range, equestrian facility, hiking/biking trails, picnic areas, covered pavilions, concession stands, a potential fishing pond, an archery range and wilderness camping areas.


At the center of each baseball quad, a covered pavilion is provided. Design elements and materials from the concession building are repeated in the pavilions. These pavilions are raised approximately six feet to allow visitors to sit and view the games.

Getting Started

The project got started when the parish formed a recreation committee to gather information on the community's recreational needs. Several public meetings were held to discuss those needs as well as how much money to raise. The recreation committee prepared a report, which became the basis for the future design of the park. The parish bought the land next to Rosedown Plantation and hired SJB Group as the consulting engineers and planners. SJB Group, in collaboration with Joey Furr, a landscape architect with JFDS and Tom Holden, architect with Holden Associates, Inc., prepared the master plan and construction documents for the project.

"When we came on, the land was already owned and all the research was done," Barro explained. "We took the report from the recreation committee and the information about the land and merged the two into the master plan."


Phase one of the project was completed last summer and includes eight baseball diamonds, a concession/restroom building, four outdoor basketball courts, four tennis courts and two soccer fields.

As part of the planning process, a series of charettes and public meetings were held to review the objectives of the project. The planning of the park involved several different layouts that were presented to the Police Jury, which used throughout the state to improve parish government, and the public to select which option would be considered and which would offer the best economy and functionality of the site's characteristics. Once the master plan was completed and approved by the Police Jury, SJB Group began to prioritize key elements for implementation in harmony with funding availability.

Essential requirements of the parish included lighting for evening usage that didn't overspill into surrounding areas and the blending of the architectural character of the surrounding area into the park's buildings, which is a southern plantation feeling with columns and wide porches.


Ninety acres were developed for active recreation, while 48 acres were left undisturbed except for nearly six miles of nature trails.

The theme of the park was aimed at West Feliciana's desire to maintain the quality of life in the area and be consistent with its antebellum heritage. The concession/ restroom building was designed with a wide porch around the building. One-half of the building houses the concession area while the other half contains the restrooms. The breezeway in the center of the building can be used as a control entry point. The breezeway can be closed and secured by rolling barn doors at each end. A metal red roof, wide concrete columns, laminated wood and brick were used to reflect the local architectural styles.

The baseball/softball fields are sodded and have an automatic irrigation system. At the center of each baseball quad, a covered pavilion is provided. Design elements and materials from the concession building are repeated in the pavilions. These pavilions are raised approximately four feet to allow visitors to sit and view the games. Ceiling fans are provided to improve the comfort level of the visitors. A 10-foot wide plaza is provided around the pavilions and small bleachers are built into the sides of the plaza behind home plate. Around the pavilion plaza, Drake elms (Ulmus parvifolia) are planted to provide shade to the plaza and the bleachers. Grass areas are provided along the baselines fences for folding chairs or movable bleachers.

With the exception of a few existing pecan trees on the site which were preserved, the new park required tree planting. Southern red oaks (Quercus falcata), crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) and slash pines (Pinus elliottii) are planted throughout the site to provide shade and soften the impact of the park on the landscape.


Design elements and materials from the Concession Building, such as a red metal roof and wide concrete columns, are repeated in the pavilions.

The firm designed the facilities to cluster utilities to minimize their costs and related routings. Water, sewer, sewer treatment facilities, power supply, access roads and parking facilities were designed and scrutinized to meet the Police Jury's financial capabilities. Construction materials and individual element design options were selected to minimize future operations and maintenance costs. The maintenance building and sewage treatment plant were located in isolated areas of the site to maintain the overall aesthetics as well as to improve their constructability and their associated costs.

"We had to reconcile what the parish wanted in phase one with the financial obligations of the parish," Barro said. "The biggest challenge was balancing what to build with the money that was available."

A percentage of property taxes in the area went towards the construction of the facility and later citizens of the parish approved a half-cent sales tax dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the complex. Other funding has come by the way of grants. According to West Feliciana Parish recreation director Randy Albarez, the facility has received nearly $500,000 in grants in the last 18 months.

"We recently received a $75,000 trail grant that allowed us to build a walking trail," Albarez said. "I'm not a grant writer, but if you have the time and you follow the instructions for the grant you can be pretty successful."


Ceiling fans are provided to improve the comfort level of the visitors inside the pavilions. A 10-foot wide plaza is provided around the pavilions and small bleachers are built into the sides of the plaza behind home plate.

The Reaction

This project had extensive input from various committees, concerned citizens and the local governing body. The people in the parish care about the community and want only the best for their historic area, so questions and concerns were inevitable, but since the phase one implementation, feedback has been only positive.

The facility has been booked with several baseball and softball tournaments, which has boosted the local coffers.

Albarez said that in the park's first year of operation they held three state tournaments and one regional tournament in addition to local leagues.

"When people stay the weekend they are filling up the hotel and eating in the restaurants which helps the local economy," he said. "We also get people who come back to visit our historic sites and end up staying in a bed and breakfast without the kids."

The park recently received the 2003 Merit Citation award from the Louisiana Recreation and Parks Association, "For accomplishments in providing recreational opportunities to the citizens of West Feliciana Parish."

"Our department is new and we started from the bottom up," Albarez observed. "This town has a great historical aspect, and this complex, even though we had a few bumps in the road, has helped the cream rise to the top."


The Particulars

Design Team:

  • SJB Group, Inc.
    Consulting engineers
    Jose Barro, ASLA,
    Landscape Architect
  • Joseph Furr Design Studio
    Joey Furr, Landscape Architect
  • Holden Associates, Inc.
    Tom Holden, Architect

Overall Project:

  • 12 baseball fields in three quads of different sizes
  • Eight soccer fields
  • Four tennis courts
  • Four basketball courts-- two exterior, two under a canopy
  • Concession/ restroom building
  • Recreation building with offices, meeting rooms, gym
  • Multi-purpose field
  • 4-H Club building
  • Two playgrounds
  • Three covered pavilions
  • Fishing pond
  • Archery range
  • Five-plus miles of nature trails
  • Primitive camping area
  • Maintenance building
  • Parking for over 400 vehicles
  • Automatic irrigation systems on all fields
  • Infrastructures (roads, utilities, etc.)

Total estimated cost: $8,500,000


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November 13, 2019, 8:39 pm PDT

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