Parish council members take up capital outlay applications

A long list of applications for state capital outlay funds passed by the St. Mary Parish Council Wednesday included one that drew some opposition.
Councilman Kevin Voisin of Morgan City said he was opposed to the application for $580,000 to renovate and convert the Tourist Center building in Patterson after that commission moves to its new location in Morgan City next month. The resolution says the facility would be able to “accommodate small business meetings” and stipulates a $195,980 match by the parish.
“I just got a strong feeling that this building could be used for better purposes than a conference center,” Voisin said. “We already have many recreation centers, golf course restaurant other areas that can hold conferences.”
He added that the property and building might be better put to use as a meeting place for the St. Mary Levee District. Other considerations he suggested included public sale or donation to the City of Patterson.
Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange said the building and property located on the Bayou Teche was donated by the Kemper Williams Foundation and therefore use is restricted.
“It’s a historic structure, and in keeping with all the support we’ve had from the Kemper Williams Foundation, we feel it’s appropriate to try and get funds to preserve this building,” LaGrange said.
Application for the funds is a “longshot,” he said, but if obtained use of the building could be determined after the much needed renovations are completed.
“It’s a very beautiful setting with the lower Atchafalaya River in the backdrop, beautiful live oak trees, so I think it can and will become something very nice, an attraction and facility that says something good about St. Mary Parish,” LaGrange said.
The resolution passed 8-2 with Voisin and Tim Tregle of Morgan City voting against, and Lionel “Butch” Metz of Sorrell absent.
Other capital outlay resolutions that passed would fund reconstruction of Chitimacha Trail Road from La. 328 to La. 670, $1.96 million; reconstruction of Flattown Road from Chitimacha Trail Road to Ralph Darden Parkway, $550,000; reconstruction of Charenton Beach Road from La. 87 to the West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee, $1.08 million; hard surfacing of Atchafalaya Basin Levee Road from Charenton Beach to the St. Mary/Iberia Parish line, $4.5 million; installation of culverts and associated infrastructure at Middle Road in Bayou Vista for Sub-Gravity Drainage District 1 of District 2, $580,000; replacement of ball field lighting and capital improvements at Kemper Williams Park, $438,000; repair and capital improvements at Elizabeth Davis Park,  Centerville Park,  Sorrell Park, St. Joseph Park, and  Bring Back the Neighborhood Park, $2.52 million; addition of an administrative and activity center for St. Mary Association for Retarded Citizens, $332,000; capital improvements and construction for Recreation District 3 in Bayou Vista, $200,000; construction of a new central fire station for Fire Protection District 11 in the Four Corners community, $1.26 million; and rehabilitation and conversion of the sheriff’s building in Morgan City to a regional operations and training center, $3.6 million.
In other business the council:
—Introduced ordinances on the 2014 budget and five-year capital outlay plan, and reporting requirements of parish boards and commissions.
—Adopted an ordinance granting a specific use permit for a four-unit RV park on Sterling Quarters Lane near Franklin to Sterling Sugars, Inc.
—Passed resolutions approving three change orders on the  Plantation Pump Station replacement project; a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state Department of the Treasury on Myette Point Boat Landing improvements; a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state on the Comprehensive Resiliency Program, Disaster Recovery Community Block Grant; authorizing participation in the Quality Jobs Program by Seacraft Shipyard LLC and Coastal Manpower LLC;  and execution of a contract with the state Department of Health and Hospitals on the 2014 Cities Readiness Initiative Planning Project.

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