Parish complex back on track after $438K snafu

Published 12:12 am Saturday, May 6, 2017

LAPLACE — Construction has resumed on the new St. John the Baptist Parish government complex, with 35 days added to the contract and the architect having to pay nearly half a million dollars to correct issues with the slab.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said Murray Architects wrote a check for $438,894.35 to cover the cost of an additional 165 pilings topped with a six-inch slab. Robottom also revealed the additional 35 days to the contract.

The action came days after Parish Council members went into executive session during their April 25 meeting to discuss what council member Michael Wright said was potential litigation regarding the building.

Although no additional details were offered by Robottom’s office, according to sources at one point there was some concern the entire slab, which was recently poured, might have to be removed and the entire process started over.

However, the drilling of the additional pilings should address the problem. According to sources close to the situation, the problem arose when it was discovered the slab was poured to support a one-story building even though the building would be two stories. One of the architects discovered the error, and the firm agreed to make up the difference.

Murray Architects is a Destrehan architectural firm that, according to its website, has worked on at least one other parish project in the past, that being a boat launch in Reserve.

That $640,000 project, which was completed in February 2011, included construction of a new pier and boat launch, and the site was repaved with full size boat parking spaces and new lighting.

The Council authorized the construction of the 44,130 square foot government complex in February 2016, and it is designed to house the Register of Voters, Planning and Zoning, Code Enforcement, Clerk of Court, Utility billing, Grants and Council offices, as well as a new Council Chambers, Courtroom and Parish President’s Office.

The cost of the building, which is being constructed by Lamar Contractors LLC of Luling, is estimated to come in at $9.4 million

According to parish leaders, the Council Chambers will include seating for more than 100 people with enhanced sound, voting and camera systems. The sound and voting systems have caused problems in the past.

— By Richard Meek