St. John upgrading Parish Council room

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Renovations to the Joel McTopy Council Chambers and construction of a self-contained safe room have been approved by the St. John the Baptist Parish Council.

Parish Capital Project Administrator Daron Cooper said improvements to the chambers will include upgraded audio and visual equipment, reconfiguring of the space to allow for additional seating and several aesthetic improvements.

Council members awarded a contract in August for an amount not to exceed $17,325 for renovations of the chambers to Murray Architects, Inc.

Cooper said the total renovations, including the contract, would total approximately $150,000 and was funded from the 2014 bond issue.

Once the design is completed, specifications for construction of the project will be advertised for bids.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said although the yet-to-be-built new parish administrative building will house new chambers, the current chambers will continue to be used for different parish meetings and gatherings after the new building is complete. Communications Director Paige Falgoust said the new administrative building, funded through bond issues, will be located in front of the existing building, where there is currently lawn space.

“This project is currently in the design phase,” Falgoust said. “Once design is completed the project will go out for bids for construction.”  

Cooper said the new 41,000 square feet administrative building will “stream-line all parish services under one roof,” including the Utilities Department, which is currently housed on the corner of Airline Highway and Main Street in LaPlace.

Cooper said the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office would occupy space made available in Percy Hebert Building by the new building’s completion.

In another building announcement, a final contract was awarded to Siezler, Thompson, Brown Architects in the amount of $97,798 for the design of a self-contained safe room. Robottom said this room will provide a secure location to support recovery operations and house parish employees and critical staff during and immediately following an emergency event.

“It was evident during Hurricane Isaac that adequate space was not available to house and protect emergency responders and essential personnel during emergencies,” Robottom said.

“Constructing a safe room will provide a secure location to respond to emergencies during and immediately following an event.” 

The 4,000 square foot facility, at an estimated cost of $914,000, will complement the existing Emergency Operations Center and is partially funded by a Hazard Mitigation Grant. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the total project cost and the parish will cover the remaining 25 percent, with land value included in the parish’s portion.

Robottom said requirements for the single-story safe room mean it cannot be physically connected to another building, but that there will be a breezeway connection from the room to the existing EOC.