More dollars dedicated to Reserve facility

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

By Richard Meek
Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – Depending on who one is apt to believe the Homer Boogie Joseph Center in the Reserve area might or might not be suitable to begin hosting community programs.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom and council member Lucien Gauff are among those who believe the center is sufficient to host programs that include adult computer and resume writing classes, as all as after school activities for young people.

“I think it looks great,” Gauff said. “I’m ready to get the programs started. I think (residents) would be proud with the building they have.”

Casting a vocal dissent during the last Parish Council meeting, however, was member Lennix Madere, who represents District 3 where the building is located.

“I am not satisfied,” he said, repeating a similar refrain from the March 11 meeting. “I’m not looking at sufficient. I’m not looking for good enough. If we’re going to put these programs together, I want to put them in a real nice building.”

What is known is the parish recently completed renovations to the Boogie Center, including replacing the roof, doors and appliances and painting the walls. But it’s the walls that are at the center of the controversy.

Robottom and Gauff said the walls are adequate to move forward, but Madere strenuously objected. Although significant work has already been completed, pictures displayed during the council meeting shows walls could need some additional attention.

“I want those walls fixed,” Madere said. “You can see how raggedy is it.”

Robottom said the parish has already spent more than $40,000 on renovations on the building since 2010, when the facility, which was being used as a recreation center complete with a pool table, closed. She said another $3,500 is required to finalize roof repairs.

Robottom revealed the building was recently assessed by the assessor’s office at $10,000, land included.

Robottom said three estimates solicited by her office to complete the wall repairs Madere is seeking range from $25,000 to $35,000.

“If it’s $25,000, I say let’s put it in there and make it well spent,” Madere said, directing his comments at Robottom. “$40,000 you say was spent on the building was not well spent. I don’t care about that.”

Robottom and Gauff each warned Madere about potential problems contractors might find when taking down the plaster during construction. Gauff told Madere he was not even certain $25,000 “is going to be enough to get it to even where you want it to be.”

Madere countered that when contractors finish the work, “I expect those walls to look like what we expect them to make it look like.”

He made a motion to spend the $25,000 to improve the walls, and after some discussion and a quirky parliamentary maneuver the motion was passed.  

Gauff initially voted for it but quickly changed his vote. He was the lone dissenter.

It is uncertain when the work will begin.

In other council news, members spent nearly 45 minutes flushing out final details on who will clean the parish’s toilets. A request by the administration to accept Enmon Enterprises’ proposal of $228,330 to perform the services triggered a lengthy discussion.

In 2012 the janitorial services contract was awarded to Enmon doing business as Jani-King and Sparkling Touch from St. James Parish. Robottom, however, said the parish received numerous complaints regarding Sparking Touch, and that played a factor in her recommendation.

“We have had constant problems (with Sparkling Touch),” Robottom said. “We took that to heart and tried to prevent that from happening again. We are looking at quality of service.”

Following a lengthy discussion the council voted unanimously to accept Robottom’s recommendation.