Restoration at the Park

Posted on April 23, 2013

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Many, many moons ago when I wore younger man’s clothes, my friends and I used to hang out at Restoration Park in West Monroe.

Well, it wasn’t Restoration Park then, it was just an out-of-the-way patch of woods off a seldom traveled service road running parallel to the interstate.

Today it looks much different and I’m not just talking about the park.

Hotels and chain restaurants and a huge shopping center occupy the space today but in the late ’80’s the whole place was one big slough, a swampy marsh, one of a million you’ll find here in the Delta. 

Sadly, like so many areas of NELA, locals took to using the place as an unofficial trash dump.

Trash bags, old tires, broken appliances and animal carcasses were strewn about, all slowly eroding into the damp earth.

I had no idea the area was once an sand and gravel mine till I read the sign you see above on my first visit since the area was transformed into Restoration Park.

And transformed is the right word.

Back in the Reagan administration my friends and I would hang out there testing our livers and experimenting/ingesting illegal chemicals and I remember mountains of old tires surrounding us.

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My son, my brother and I visited Restoration Park this past weekend, the lovely Lilly-pad covered pond behind us was the site of a massive tire dump 25 years ago.

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A view from a raised walkway that bisects one of the many shallow ponds in R.P.

It really is an amazing difference.

The trash dump I recall from my teen years is a memory.

In it’s place graveled trails and raised walkways pass through forest on over ponds like this one.

Another view, pics don't do it justice. It's as peaceful and soothing as it looks.

Another view, pics don’t do it justice. It’s as peaceful and soothing as it looks.

Of course my merry band of brother and son weren’t alone on this beautiful Saturday, as we explored the trails of Restoration Park we passed joggers, walkers, bird-watchers, nature lovers and dog-walkers.

Raised walkways like this allow you to walk over Lilly-pad covered ponds, it adds so much to the experience to be so close instead of simply watching from the shoreline.

Raised walkways like this allow you to walk over Lilly-pad covered ponds, it adds so much to the experience to be so close instead of simply watching from the shoreline.

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My brother Jeremy takes in the scenery from a bridge in Restoration Park.

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When I feel stressed I'm gonna try and remember this peaceful place and how I felt when I snapped this pic.

When I feel stressed I’m gonna try and remember this peaceful place and how I felt when I snapped this pic.

An opposite view from the bridge.

An opposite view from the bridge.

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Lennon on the bridge. Luckily, we found no trolls under it.

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A prehistoric sized Blur Heron greets visitors to Restoration Park.

I was truly amazed, that dirty old trash dump from my youth, a place where tires went to die, it’s now a beautiful wetland park.

Next time you’re out that way, stop and see for yourself.

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