Daniel discusses RD1 impact study

Published 8:42 am Friday, November 2, 2012

BY lucy parker

The Daily News

The Washington Parish economy would benefit from Recreation District 1’s planned recreation complex, according to a recent study by Southeastern’s Business Research Center.

According to the study, commissioned by Recreation District 1 Chairman Johnnie Daniel and completed in September, the total cost of the project is estimated at $10.9 million.

The construction of the facility is expected to create a new impact of about $110,000 on the parish economy. Development expenditures are expected to generate $148,617 in output impacts “and support 1.3 full and/or part-time jobs during the year of construction with earnings of $51,175,” according to the study.

Once the park is operational, it is projected to generate $270,300 per year in local spending by non-local Dixie Youth All-Star, girls’ youth softball all-star, adult softball and travel ball tournament participants and visitors, the study says. The estimates are based on spending in the categories of restaurants, groceries, fuel, recreation and miscellaneous.

“This influx of spending by visitors from outside the parish is projected to have total output impacts of $380,441, supporting 6.3 full and/or part-time jobs with earnings of $153,780,” the report says.

“If the number of tournaments or participants and spectators increases in future years, the impacts of visitor spending will increase accordingly.”

When providing the Business Research Center with the information about what is expected to take place at the park, Daniel said he offered conservative numbers to ensure the report would give an accurate estimate of the complex’s potential economic impact. For example, he said, the report has eight adult softball tournaments taking place at the complex each year, where he thinks the actual number could be triple that due to the popularity of the sport.

The results of the study show that local businesses and the parish economy will benefit from the opening of the park, Daniel said.

“I think it shows that the park, with the visitors that it will attract, offers a much-needed economic boost to the Franklinton and Washington Parish area for our local merchants, restaurants, gas stations and other retail businesses,” he said. “And each agency would benefit from sales tax that people spend here.”

In addition to creating a positive economic impact, the recreation complex would also give “our citizens improved athletic opportunities,” Daniel said.

The recreation district hopes to start a Phase One project by January 2013, with 10 soccer fields, an entrance road and parking spaces being built and funded by a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, Daniel said.

“It’s somewhat contingent on $100,000 that we received from Capital Outlay that still has to be approved by the state Bond Commission at their November meeting,” he added.

Daniel said he is encouraged by the progress made on the project so far.

“I didn’t know how long this would take, and when you’re dealing with government, sometimes things go slower than we would like them to,” he said. “But I think we’re on a good pace to provide recreation for the children and for all citizens. It’s a park that is going to be a reality, and it’s just a matter of when and not if.”

He said he also wants to thank community members who have been working to make the project a reality.

“The recreation district as a whole thanks the citizens for their support of our project and for their patience while we’re working toward building it,” he said. “We ask for their continued support, and we are going to make things better for our communities.”