Repairs begin in Cassidy Park

Published 6:27 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On Monday, city workers began filling holes and patching up water lines at Cassidy Park.

For the first time since the March 11 flood, workers began chipping away at what will be a long, costly project.

But the first step is simple enough.

“The objective is to make the park safe. Not necessarily for people to come back, but for us to continue to work here,” said Landon Tims, the director of the city’s parks department. “We really want to get the park in a safe condition so people can come and continue to rebuild.”

On Monday, dump trucks loaded with dirt made their way into the park, while damaged brush was cleared. Other repairs won’t be as simple. Tims stood on the precipice of a deep hole that ripped through a road inside the park. Below him ran pipes — one water, one gas and one electric.

“You can’t just dump dirt down in there,” he said.

The lines that are exposed must be checked for leaks or breaks. In the case of the water lines, Tims said water in the park was turned on, but then turned off once a leak was discovered.

“When we turn the water on and no water shoots out, then we’ll be good to go,” he said.

However, he said the electricity is already turned on.

Tims said he didn’t know when the repairs would be completed.

“We don’t have a timetable, honestly,” he said. “We’re going to work diligently until it’s done.”

Meanwhile, organizers with the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival have said they plan to hold the annual festival at Cassidy Park.

Whether the park will be open to the public by then, however, isn’t known.

“Optimistically, I would say yes,” said Tims. “But realistically, there’s a lot of work to be done and we’re just going to continue to do our best and wait and see.”

Tims said city workers would have been at work repairing the park already, except the city had to wait for FEMA to assess the damage. FEMA has done that, although there’s no word yet on whether the park will qualify for federal funding.

“They’ve given us the go-ahead to fill in the holes,” Times said.

With that go-ahead, the city has poured manpower into the park. A dozen city workers were on site Monday, along with a fleet of heavy machinery. But, as Tims noted, the manpower can’t remain committed to the park all day long.

“If we’re needed somewhere else, or if a piece of equipment is needed somewhere else, we’ll go,” said Tims. “That’s why we don’t have a timetable. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

However, it’s not all bad news. Tims said the new playground equipment, near the splash pad at the rear of the park, should be salvageable for the most part.

“An engineer is coming to look at it, and we’re going to pull each piece out very carefully and examine it,” he said. “We’re hoping to salvage 70 percent or so, although that’s optimistic.”