Volunteers help city restore, reopen long-neglected park - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Volunteers help city restore, reopen long-neglected park

Volunteers were out Oct. 7 picking up trash, clearing undergrowth and repairing a pier at C. Bickham Dickson Park in Shreveport. (Source: Brian Salvatore) Volunteers were out Oct. 7 picking up trash, clearing undergrowth and repairing a pier at C. Bickham Dickson Park in Shreveport. (Source: Brian Salvatore)
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

After years of neglect punctuated by flooding, C. Bickham Dickson Park is back open.

At least, the front part is.

"It's beautiful now with just that short amount of cleanup. So it just shows what the community can actually do," said Caddo Magnet High senior Kristen Adams, who was among people rediscovering the park Sunday.

The venue on Old River Lake in southeast Shreveport has been partially restored through the efforts of a small army of volunteers aided by some Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation workers.

The "beautiful and iconic park," the largest park in the city, had become "a big stain on Shreveport."

For three years, flooding kept it closed largely because the city said it lacked the money and other resources necessary to make the repairs.

Its disrepair led to people on social media questioning how millions can be proposed for a sports arena yet much less could not be spared to even fix a pier much less restore the park at 2283 East Bert Kouns Industrial Loop.

The city apparently heeded that offer of help.

Then Facebook user Cera Fergie saw some activity at the park.

SPAR workers were seen Sept. 25 cutting grass and overgrowth in part of the park.

They spent about two weeks getting ready for Saturday.

That's the day several citizens came together for a cleanup.

"Repair the pier, build a kayak launch, clean it up so people aren't scared to walk out here because it was 12- to 15-feet-high brush," cleanup organizer Adam Harbuck said. The city provided the lumber and volunteers did the repairs, he added.  

"Thank you to all the community groups that organized this, and thank you to SPAR for recognizing that people love this park and value it as a civic amenity," Brian Salvatore posted. "It truly is one of our 'crown jewels' locally.

"It is amazing what a determined group of citizens can accomplish in a single day," Salvatore posted Saturday.

"People often speak of public-private partnerships in economic terms, but this was the best demonstration of a civic public-private partnership that I have seen anywhere.

"Seeing the gates open and the new sign this afternoon was like icing on the cake. Thank you SPAR for working with the people in such a constructive way. I hope this can be replicated throughout the city."

The next project: Getting the back half of C. Bickham Dickson Park reopened.

Meantime, anglers say there's an unintended benefit of the park being closed for so long.

"I think because it hasn't been fished in a year, it's going to be great fishing. So they haven't been pressured," Elijah Gee said.

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