Recreation Topics Dominate Alexandria City Council Meeting

By Jim Smilie

An update on Bringhurst Golf Course, the status of playground equipment at various city parks, the upcoming Dixie Girls Softball World Series and appointments to a citizen panel to advise officials on recreation and education efforts were among the recreation-related topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Alexandria City Council.

At 4:45 p.m., prior to the start of the main council meeting, council members Cynthia Perry, REDDEX Washington and Lizzie Felter met as the Community Affairs, Services and Events Committee to hear a report from the administration regarding playground equipment in city parks.

City Urban Forester Darren Green spoke on behalf of the administration, telling the committee members that it will likely be a year before improvements are made. Green said they are currently seeking design proposals to replace much of the equipment, which in some cases is more than 30 years old. He expects that process to take three months. Once a design is agreed upon, he said the bid process will take another three months. He also noted that currently, playground equipment is taking 8-9 months to arrive after being ordered.

District 4 councilwoman Felter asked which parks would be affected, to which Green replied there is a list, and the goal is to update the aging equipment at all parks. He did note that Compton Park is expected to be removed from the list as a private donor has offered to provide equipment for that park.

Once the main council meeting began at 5 p.m., Frank and Jack Brame provided a brief update on Bringhurst Golf Course. They acknowledged the work of Jack’s father, the late Scott Brame, for creating the Friends of Bringhurst support organization and all of the fundraising that has been done to help support the city-owned facility.

The course, believed to be the oldest par 3 course in the United States, was built in 1926 or 1927. Over the years, the Brame family, as well as the Trotter family, have worked to help maintain the course. “As much as we love the Zoo, we don’t want to see it become a Zoo parking lot,” Frank Brame said. “It’s 100 year anniversary will be coming up soon. We’re proud of that.”

Frank Brame noted the course is open Thursday-Sunday and that there is no charge to play the 9-hole course. He said the course is in good condition and that attendance is strong, with approximately 70 players in the most recent tournament at the facility and approximately 90 in the tournament before that.

Jack Brame said the course averages 40 rounds per day when it is open, with as many as 70 rounds on a busy day. “It draws people from all over,” Jack said. “To me, it’s the prettiest thing on Masonic Drive. Of course, I’m biased.”

Following the update on the golf course, an ordinance was introduced to authorize the city to host and co-sponsor the Dixie Girls Softball World Series, scheduled for July 28-August 2 in Alexandria. That item will be up for final approval at the July 11 council meeting.

The council also approved appointing 13 members to the Alexandria Recreation and Education Program Commission, or AREP, to help advise the administration and city council on recreation and education matters. Each city council member nominated a member of the commission as did Mayor Jacques Roy. Roy said he expects the group will provide reports quarterly and they will work with the Director of Community Services, Recreation Director and other support staff as needed.

Members nominated and approved Tuesday night include Shelly Jinx Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson, Larry Turner, Jessica Lowe, Bart Schmolke, Ralph Covington, Tommy Milo, Zeb Winstead, Nydia Freedman, Kristy Wilson Flynn, and Sterling Brown. Two other members remain to be appointed, with one from the Mayor’s Youth Commission and one designated by the Superintendent of Rapides Parish Schools.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of Brannin Leglue to serve as a commissioner on the Central Louisiana Regional Port Board. The city also accepted the construction of the improvements for the North 16th Street Bridge Replacement, which recently reopened to traffic after more than five years.

The council also approved renewing the operations and management agreement for the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana at the current terms and conditions as agreed to in 2019 until a new agreement is entered into.