New APSO substation, community playground breaks ground

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Basketball courts, slides, monkey bars, swings, and Ascension Parish sheriffs. The brain child of LSU engineering professor Mary Beth Lima broke ground Friday, July 7, and will serve as a new substation for the APSO.

"You can swing, slide, climb, bounce, spin, and run on it. It's awesome," said Dr. Lima.

The playground Dr. Lima and her team of student volunteers are constructing is actually the building block for what Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley hopes will become a safer community, and one that has a better relationship with law enforcement.

"I want to see kids off the corner and I want to see them here, maybe in a reading lab," said Sheriff Wiley. "I want to see the community have a place to meet and interact with the sheriff's office or having their own meeting."

The Sheriff says his department will maintain the grounds, but he has already recruited people who live nearby to be part of a committee that will establish a set of rules for the playground. In fact, the youngest members of this community were on board before the Sheriff broke ground on the project.

"We essentially asked the children, 'What would you like to see - what's your dream playground?' and we used their ideas, because kids are the true experts at play, and this playground we are building today and tomorrow is truly their vision," said Sheriff Wiley.

Engineering student Caroline Bergeron took the kids' ideas and helped bring them to life.

"I really put a lot of time into designing a school-aged playground for this particular bid, so I'm super excited to see what that's going to look like," said Bergeron.

The Sheriff is eager to roll out the welcome mat and invite his new neighbors in. He said he's expecting a lot of visitors.

"If we get 50 kids a day and 10 families a day here, I'll call it a major success," said Sheriff Wiley.

The playground is set to open to the public the first week of August.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.