By Whitney Martin
Cypress Black Bayou Recreational Park is seeing major upgrades with renovations and new infrastructure.
Since early 2016, the park began renovations and several updates have been added to the park, including a new marina and fishing piers, cabins, RV sites, and expanded parking lot.
“The park had gotten such disarray that no one was coming. The grass was high, the RV Park was in bad shape, and the old cabins are just embarrassing to have somebody in. We have made improvements to the park,” Executive Director Robert Berry said.
The marina and fishing piers are now open, two new cabins are ready with a third at about 85 percent completion.
There are 32 new RV sites with a full hookups, an asphalt parking lot is now at the 162 launch, and there are park road improvements and cleanup at the zoo.
Other improvements include lift station at the beach house, and the main building at the entrance has a new entry and exit gate system that can better track revenue.
“We’ve updated the gate and the computer systems to be able to track the revenue. We have put stuff in place so that now if the taxpayer wants to know what kind of money is coming in, where the money is coming from and how we’re using it, we can produce that now,” Berry said.
The landowners on the lake make up only about one and a half percent of the budget funding the park. Bossier Parish landowners and businesses are what keeps the park going.
The park tries to keep down costs to the taxpayers by using Bossier inmates. They do a lot of the yard work and upkeep required. By using inmates, it saves taxpayers around half on park projects.
There are still more improvements to come. Construction for a new bathhouse for the RV area is about to begin. There are plans to construct a new pier on the other side of the boat ramp due to traffic congestion. Also, a bike trail will be built and is expected to be complete by the spring of 2018.
The ongoing improvements to Cypress Black Bayou are a little over half way done. Most of the work is expected to be complete by next year.
“It’s been a tough road. It’s a blessing to be able to get this thing turned around. We thank everybody for being patient with us. We still have a long road ahead of us to get it like we want it, but I think we’re a lot closer” Berry said.
Marty Carlson, a former political columnist for the Bossier-Press Tribune who passed away in 2016, played a significant role in seeing the park improvements through, Berry said. She attended meetings and gave her input on what should be done and held the board accountable. Berry described her as a “very vocal and conservative taxpayer of Bossier Parish.”
“We had the utmost respect for her. She was very instrumental in seeing the park regenerate and revive. She was a true and independent journalist that wrote about the facts.” Berry said.