Bid accepted for Multi-Purpose Complex

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023

LAPLACE — Kurt Becnel did little to veil his excitement as he “proudly” made a motion during the St. John the Baptist Council meeting May 9 that would forever change the landscape of the West Bank.

A dream years in the making, one that he and so many others worked for, a dream they refused to let die even through a natural disaster and global pandemic.

Becnel’s motion during the meeting, which was appropriately held in Edgard, was to authorize the parish to accept a bid for construction of the Westbank Multiple Purpose Complex with TKTMJ of New Orleans.

TKTMJ’s bid of $6,395,565 was determined to be the lowest and most responsible.

“I proudly second that motion,” said Councilman At-Large Lennix Madere, whose district encompasses portions of the West Bank.

“Which I third,” jokingly added Councilman At-Large Michael Wright.

“I’m so excited for the West Bank,” Becnel said, adding that it was perhaps his proudest moment as a council member. “It’s long overdue.”

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said the facility will provide a meeting point for residents to obtain information on available services, recovery programs and assistance to area residents and businesses needing help after natural disasters or man-made events. Community meetings, youth recreational activities and special programs such as blood drives, public awareness meetings and other governmental-sponsored activities will also find a welcoming home.

In the case of disasters, such as a hurricane or a manmade disaster, the facility will be mobilized to serve as a rally point to local and out of town first responders.

Hotard said the center will be built at a plus-13 feet elevation and is designed to be able to withstand winds of 144 miles per hour.

She said during the past few years when coping with the pandemic and the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the need for a facility on the West Bank became apparent.

“The pandemic allowed us to determine what the needs of the parish needed to be. We went back to the drawing board,” she said, adding that process allowed the parish to address the potential of housing first responders during disasters, which was not available during Ida.

In other council action, members authorized the St. John the Baptist Parish Library to utilize collected millage to complete the 1885 House renovation and restoration.

The council also approved accepting the $1.3 million bid submitted by Barriere Construction Co. of Boutte for an asphalt overlay on prepared surfaces for parish wide improvements. Parish engineering consultant Joseph Savoie said the improvements will include asphalt paving, lime stabilization, soil cement stabilization, grading, earthwork and all appurtenances necessary to complete the work.

Savoie said the parish is upgrading the asphalt to be used which admittedly comes at a higher price but in the long run will serve the parish better and be more economically efficient.

He said items initially to be addressed include projects that have been lingering for several years.

Council members also executed a certificate of substantial completion with LA Contracting Enterprise for the 2022 parishwide street ditch drainage improvements.

The contract with LA Contracting for removal and replacement of concrete sidewalks, driveways and street sections parishwide was also deemed substantially complete.

The council, upon Hotard’s recommendation, also agreed to allow the parish president to sign any and all documents relating to litigation against FEMA to challenge the agency’s Risk Rating 2.0. Several federal, state and local officials and other Louisiana entities have raised concerns to FEMA about the risk rating and its failure to take into account any of the numerous improvements that have been made to the flood projection systems and its catastrophic effect on the state’s flood insurance rates and the ability of homeowners to purchase flood insurance.