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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Council votes to fund new Lockport Pool

Council votes to fund new Lockport Pool

Lockport will get funding for a new pool—and a community/recreation center.

After a lengthy debate, and a 6-2 vote in favor of funding the pool, the Lafourche Parish Council passed an ordinance providing a $1.5 million supplemental appropriation to begin the project.

Councilmen Jerry Lafont and Jerry Jones voted against the measure.  Michael Delatte was absent.

The parish portion of the funding is actually $500,000, with another $1.2 million from the Home Mortgage Authority’s $1.6 million giveback to the parish. An additional $600,000, left over from the Laurel Valley Road and Drainage project in Thibodaux, is also available.

The community and recreation center has already been funded through Gustav and Ike recovery money awarded to the parish in 2009 in the amount of $2 million. 

The center and pool, estimated to cost $4 million, will be built at the intersection of Highways 308 and 655 in Lockport.

The property was previously donated by landowner Hugh Caffery.

“The state has approved the (community center) project.  The next level is architectural, engineering, and expenses associated with it,” said Parish President Charlotte Randolph.

Having given its okay, the state wants a commitment now, she said. Randolph emphasized that the complex is for the entire parish, not just the town of Lockport. She said the community center can serve many purposes, and that building the pool as part of a larger complex and not as a stand-alone venture is a cheaper way.

Councilman Phillip Gouaux, one of the original organizers of the proposed complex, also emphatically extolled the site as a parishwide facility.

“This pool is not exclusively for the town of Lockport.  I assure you the pool will serve all of Lafourche,” he stated.

Gouaux promised that other recreational uses will be offered, such as gymnastics, basketball, and ball fields.

Mathews resident Tyrone Dominique, Jr., who was originally in favor of repairing to old Lockport pool, was happy that a new pool is finally in the works, noting that it is “sorely needed.” The Lockport Swim Team did not exist this year, he said, and the Central Lafourche High School swim team was forced to use private sources to practice, because the parish decided last year to condemn rather than repair the old structure.

“This seems to be a good way to finally get a pool in the central part of the parish,” he said.

Some councilmen, particularly Jerry Lafont, were skeptical about whether Lafourche Recreation District #1 could run the facility after it is built.

“I have been associated with the Larose Civic Center for many years.  Electricity cost alone at Larose is about $5000 per month,” he noted.

Lafont is in favor of building the pool in Raceland, where a community center, basketball goals, soccer and football fields already exist.

“We have too many community centers already.  How will we support them?  We’re doing the same thing we asked the library board not to do—build too many libraries.”

John Arnold expressed concern about where the money will come from to operate the facility and about whether funding the project would affect other projects in the parish.

Randolph said LRD#1 will run the operation and no other projects will be cut by funding the pool.

Daniel Lorraine asked what millage LRD#1 collects and if they could pay expenses to run the complex.

LRD#1 collects 2.46 mills which amounts to about $175,000 per year, said Randolph.

“I’m concerned about the amount of money they (LRD#1) generate.  Who’s gonna pay if Lockport can’t?” asked Lorraine.

Lindel Toups offered that it would come from the parishwide recreation fund.

In the end, most councilmen agreed with the need for the pool and community center.

Joe Fertitta said the move is “in the best interest of the parish.”