Work set to begin on gym, boat launch

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010



EDGARD – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council on Tuesday awarded contracts for construction of a parish gymnasium at Reserve’s Regala Park and improvements to the Reserve Boat Launch.

The bid awards were part of a finance committee meeting held at the St. John Parish Courthouse prior to the regular council meeting.

Block Construction of Baton Rouge submitted the low bid of $2,285,300 for construction of the long awaited gymnasium facility.

St. John Parish spokesman Buddy Boe said the firm’s bid was about $440,000 under the estimated budget of $2.7 million.

Final plans for the gym, which were drawn up by Meyer Engineers of Metairie, include an indoor basketball court, bleachers for seating of 359 people, a concession stand with a full kitchen and meeting rooms and offices for the parish’s recreation department. Boe also said the gym would be built to sustain hurricane force winds and would double as an emergency relocation point for the parish.

The firm was paid $295,000 to design the gym.

The entire cost of construction would be funded with money from the $29.5 million bond issue voters approved in April 2009.

Although the council unanimously approved the construction contract, the extremely low bid prompted a few questions from Division 3 Councilman Charles Julien, who represents the area where the gym will be built.

“Their bid seems to be far below any of the other bids,” Julien said. “Are we sure we are getting what we asked for with this?”

David Dupre, vice president of Meyer Engineers, said the project was aggressively bid out and nine firms submitted bids for the project. He said the project does not require as much work as initially thought and the remaining bids were relatively close to the winning bid.

Boe said the parish would schedule a groundbreaking for the project in the coming weeks in an effort to get the project off the ground as quickly as possible. Construction is expected to take about a year.

“The funding is there, and the site is ready,” Boe said. “We are just waiting for the contracts to be signed.

The council also unanimously approved a $540,000 contract to L&L General Contractors for improvements to the Reserve Boat Launch. The firm’s bid is $145,000 under the original estimate of $685,000.

Former Parish President Bill Hubbard proposed the boat launch improvements in March 2009 as a way to revitalize the frequently used recreational spot. The plan includes a repaved parking lot, improved lighting, picnic tables and landscaping.

Boe said funding for the work will come from a pool of money left over from a 2002 bond issue, as well as a $185,000 grant from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He said the parish also plans to use funds from public works to cover any remaining costs.

Boe said major construction would not begin until sometime after the summer when traffic on the launch has died down so that any disruption of usage would be minimized. He said the project could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete.