Community center ground breaking set for next month

Lowest bid $500,000 over budget, but parish will move forward


November 04, 2011 at 9:01 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The St. Charles Parish community center will have a gym, commercial kitchen, public meeting space and office space for at least three parish departments. The building will also be used as a staging area for assisted evacuations.
Courtesy photo
The St. Charles Parish community center will have a gym, commercial kitchen, public meeting space and office space for at least three parish departments. The building will also be used as a staging area for assisted evacuations.
Even though the lowest bid for a new community center in Luling came in $500,000 higher than the estimated cost, St. Charles Parish will move forward with the project.

In fact, the parish plans to break ground on the new facility, located on Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway, in December.

Lamar Contractors Inc. was the low bidder for the project at $9.6 million. As designed, the 27,100-square-foot building will include a gym, commercial kitchen, public meeting space and office space for at least three parish departments, including the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the Parks and Recreation Department and Community Services. The building will accommodate 500 people and will have parking for 300 vehicles.

The parish has received about $7.8 million in Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funding for the project and has committed around $2 million for the building’s completion.

The parish plans to construct a permanent backup power generator at the facility through a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant in the amount of $275,000.

There is also a chance that the building will have enough space inside to hold 1,000 people if a second alternate is accepted by the St. Charles Parish Council, according to parish spokeswoman Renee Simpson.

The second alternate would also include an additional basketball court and volleyball court.

Lamar was also the lowest bidder for the second alternative. It would cost nearly $1 million more to add both the generator along with expanded seating and floor space for the gym.

The parish will wait until bids come in on a new Emergency Operations Center before deciding whether or not to seek council approval on the second alternative, Simpson said.

Bids for the parish’s planned 13,000-square-foot emergency operations center are due on Nov. 3. The estimated cost of the EOC is $5.1 million.

The idea for the community center, which will be built on land donated by Esperanza Land Co., was originally presented in 2009. Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr. said that it’s satisfying to see the project close to becoming a reality.

"This facility will allow us so much flexibility in being able to get things accomplished - from scheduling a last-minute basketball game to staging assisted evacuations in a climate-controlled building to attracting special events," he said. "It’s something the parish will be able to grow with, as it will be built in a way that will allow for relatively easy expansions at a reasonable cost with very little downtime.

"And the parish will get use out of the facility on a daily basis."

Simpson said that residents will be able to reserve the public meeting rooms as well as the commercial kitchen and that the gym space will be available for events such as job fairs, craft fairs and small concerts.

Because the center will be built to withstand 130 mph winds, it may also be used as a temporary shelter during some emergency events.

It would also be the first parish-owned gym space for recreational games and will function as a staging area for assisted evacuations.




View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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