Gordon Dove

A Terrebonne Parish recreation district won approval from the Parish Council last week for a $2.5 million bond issue that will help jump-start renovations needed for an ailing east Houma gym.

The Rev. Vincent Fusilier, chairman of Rec District 11, faced tough scrutiny from some parish council members as they weighted the question of whether the bonds, which he says re required to start renovations of the Mechanicville Gym, should get a green light.

The request was particularly troublesome, as Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies investigate a theft complaint involving employees brought to them by Fusilier himself. Details of the investigation have not been released, but authorities confirmed that it involved theft, and the use of a credit card.

The gym renovation is part of a five-year plan that the beleaguered district has set into motion. Rehabilitation of parks in the Houma district is also a major priority, Fusilier told council members, which is why cash the district has on hand can’t be tapped for the gym project.

“These parks are in deplorable shape,” Fusilier said.

So is the gym, he acknowledged.

The parish’s ten recreation districts are under Council oversight, and major commitments such as the bond Fusilier and his board sought require Council approval.

Council members and Parish President Gordon Dove are under pressure from the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, which favors more consolidation of recreation efforts rather than the district-by-district approach currently in place.

At last week’s chamber meeting Chamber President Jason Bergeron said the parish should craft its own plan that will balance local projects undertaken by recreation districts in bayou communities with larger-scale efforts like the Bayou Country Sports Park, which is being built through a joint agreement of the parish and Recreation District 2-3.

That district now has an entirely new eight-member board. A ninth member must be selected to fill all available seats. One of the original appointees, Joe Teuton, bowed out due to the potential for conflicts with sports organizations he is involved with.

Investigation by the Louisiana Board of Ethics continues, following complaints made against Rec 11 employees. But so far no word has issued from Baton Rouge as to whether charges shall actually be filed.

Senior Staff Writer John DeSantis is a veteran journalist and author who grew up in New York City, but has spent most of his career in the Bayou Region. A specialist in criminal justice, he enjoys boating and historical research.

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