Jun 16, 2010 7:10 PM by Kate Mundy
In rural Vermilion Parish sits a splash pad with no water, no children, nothing but the sound of nature fills the air.
Construction of the $18 million Palmetto State Park is complete, but it's not open for visitors in Vermilion Parish and that's not sitting well with some Acadiana lawmakers.
The state coffers are dried up. There's no money to open and run the park. So the 1,200 acre park sits empty. Without the operating budget of $1.3 million to hire 16 employees, no taxpayers can enjoy the place they paid to construct.
"It's sitting there waiting to be enjoyed by families, I mean RVs can go, it's got everything," said Abbeville Mayor Pro Tem Francis Plaisance.
Plaisance says it's "unacceptable" that the new park can't open. He's part of a movement in Vermilion Parish, to convince state lawmakers to find the money to open it immediately.
"It would be a tragedy I think and all of us feel that way, if this park were not open to the public," said Plaisance.
Newly hired Abbeville Parks Director Jason O'Brien saw it for the first time on Wednesday. "It's amazing. It's a recreation person's dream," he said.
Besides the splash pad and bath house, there are separate canoe and boat launches, water front picnic areas and 95 RV spaces. The park also features five, 2-to-3 bedroom cabins with full kitchens, fireplaces and views of the Vermilion River.
Local leaders are convinced if it could open, it would make money, attracting visitors eager to experience Louisiana's culture, swamps and wildlife.