St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

St. John Parish Opens New Recreation Gym

St. John Parish Opens New Recreation Gym

The Times Picayune
By: Matt Scallan
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The new Regala Park gym opened for the first time Saturday, leaving parents, spectators and visitors impressed. It is the first indoor recreation facility owned by the parish. 

"It was very, very nice," said Paula Henderson, whose son Cole is in the Biddy Basketball league and got to shoot hoops at the facility in Reserve on Saturday, an event attended by more than 300 people. 

The two-story gym in Reserve was funded through a bond issue approved by voters in 2009. 

The gym will be able to seat around 350 people and features a two-in-one basketball court that will allow it to be divided into two full courts for younger players, parish officials have said. The parish has been renting school gymnasiums for league activities.

Parish spokeswoman Paige Braud said the gym's completion means the parish will no longer have to use the school system's gyms for games and practice. Since school activities had precedence over recreation league games, recreation events were sometimes pre-empted.

"That's always been a problem," said Lamont Bigham, who has coached in the league for the past five years. "It will be nice to have a place of our own."

The gym, which includes three sets of goals, can accommodate two practice sessions at once or one regulation game. 

It also has offices for the recreation staff, and a conference room. The new digs will allow the staff to move out of a trailer at the Percy Hebert Building, Recreation Director Errol Manuel said.

It also has a concessions section with counters facing inside and outside of the building. allowing access to those both inside and outside the gym.

The storm-resistant building is also designed to be used as a distribution center for the parish in the event of a disaster.

"The new gym is a great addition to Regala Park and it will enhance the parish's recreation program," Parish President Natalie Robottom said. "With only a few punch list items remaining to be completed, residents in attendance at the Biddy Basketball games this weekend were pleasantly surprised by the new gym."