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School Board awards contract for Leon Godchaux demolition

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board selected LLJ Environmental Construction LLC to handle the demolition of the old Leon Godchaux Building at a special meeting held Tuesday evening.

LLJ Environmental Construction, based in Marrero, submitted a low bid of $234,500 for the demolition project. Four companies responded during the abbreviated bidding period, which opened at 10 a.m. June 25. Other bids came from Alpha-Omega Environmental Inc. ($278,632), Gill Industries, LTD ($366,367), and Insulation Technologies Inc. ($246,900).

More than 110 years after its construction, the roof of the deteriorating Leon Godchaux Building in Reserve caved in amid wind and rain the night of March 15. The site was roped off the same week as plans began for demolition, and the process had to be handled carefully because of the possibility of asbestos in the old building’s walls.

The School Board selected All South Consulting Engineers as the engineering firm for the demolition project during an April 29 meeting. Cindy Janecke was present on behalf of All South during the June 29 School Board meeting in LaPlace to introduce LLJ Environmental Construction as the lowest bidder.

Janecke said that if all goes well with the contract being signed in July, demolition work should begin around August 1. She added that insurance agent John Faucheux is working to determine whether the School Board will need to pay a deductible for the demolition.

Expenses were a topic of discussion during the June 29 meeting as the School Board continues to navigate a budget crisis. Since the collapse of the Godchaux building was not anticipated, there is not a designated funding source for the demolition at this time.

“I’m going to double check with our consultants that we are working with to ensure the funding can be secured and taken out from the proper place,” Superintendent Dr. Lynett Hookfin said. “There will be a funding source, but I’m going to confirm where it should come from.”

School Board member Ali Burl III was hesitant to move forward without a clear answer on the funding source. He said he could not support spending the money on the demolition when the School District has other needs. “I agree that something needs to be done with it, but I think we need to prioritize exactly what our needs are,” he said.

Board member Debbie Schum advocated for moving forward with the demolition.

“It seems to me that this is what we have to do because it is potentially hazardous, it’s going to cause issues as long as it sits there, and it’s one of those things we have to just figure out,” Schum said. “I believe the budget is going to be presented to us in August. This will have to be one of the things that’s in there. Hopefully, if the insurance comes through, it won’t be a significant cost to us at that point.”

The School Board voted 7-1 to select LLJ Environmental Construction LLC to handle the demolition, with Burl voting in opposition. Debbie Schum, Patrick Sanders, Nia Mitchell, Sherry DeFrancecsh, Phillip Johnson, Keith Jones and Gerald Keller voted in favor, while Clarence Triche, Shawn Wallace and Charo Holden were absent.