If the Lake Charles City Council, Calcasieu Police Jury and Chennault International Airport Authority agree to split a $1.7 million property bill for a trailer park across from Sowela Technical Community College, the land would be given to the state for donation to the college. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, March 16, 2013 8:40 PM
Three local government entities may split a $1.7 million property bill in order for a new education building to be constructed on land now settled by tenants across from Sowela Technical Community College.
Lake Charles City Council members will vote to approve spending $566,666 during Wednesday’s regular meeting. The rest of the price tag is expected to be divided between the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and Chennault International Airport Authority, with each paying the same amount pending approval.
According to statements prepared by Sowela Chancellor Neil Aspinwall, the 13-acre parcel of land proposed to be bought would be used for the construction of a $20 million educational building and parking area to facilitate Sasol’s workforce needs. Last year, the company announced plans to begin a multibillion-dollar expansion at its Westlake facility.
The state is supposed to provide the $20 million in the form of a grant. The training facility would have 75,000 square feet and provide classrooms for instructors to teach classes like lab analysis, process technology and instrumentation programming.
If the deal is completed, dozens of households living in trailers would be forced to move.
Christopher Jacko has lived in the park two years and told the American Press that he isn’t surprised about the pending deal.
“I understand development for the city, and I am all for that. But a sudden move does not make me happy. Are they going to compensate us for moving suddenly?” he said.
Chennault Director Randy Robb said the property is important and that the airport’s objective is to create jobs.
“We are cooperating with the state, city and parish to purchase the trailer park to support economic development to our region,” he said. “If aesthetics are important to economic development, then removing the trailer park should help with that side of the house.”
Mayor Randy Roach’s administration supports the land purchase because it allows the region to meet the needs of corporations interested in growing or locating in Southwest Louisiana.
“Why is the city participating?” Roach said. “Because we are very interested in economic development for our community as the center for the five-parish region.”
Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said meetings have been held among all the parties about the land purchase. Parish officials are expected to vote on the item in April.
“There was a lot of discussion. We feel it is a good investment for the return the area will get,” he said.
Beam noted that workforce development is a key area of interest for the Police Jury, which has participated in a number of collaborative government efforts to support the growth of the local economy.
If the three entities agree to buy the land, it would be given to the state.
“The state can then assign the property to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System,” Aspinwall said.
No timeline has been given as to when the residents would have to move for construction.
Posted By: Christine B. On: 3/23/2013
Title: chennault trailers
Regardless the condition/s of the trailers they are homes to the people who live in them. I understand economic development, it is unfortunately a necessary evil (case in point). But when our leaders move in and disrupt lives without the input of the people involved, the fine line of trust slowly begins to waiver. Where has the compassion for our fellow man gone? I truly hope our local leaders will help protect the tenant's, and give them a hand up, not a hand out.
Posted By: concerned tenant On: 3/17/2013
Title: Tenant of Chennault Mobile Park
Some of the residents here cannot move their homes either financially or due to the model of mobile home they own. If the state is planning on using the property they should compensate the homeowners by either moving the tenants or purchasing the homes. If we were homeowners on private land they would have to do one or the other. So we should get the same treatment. I know as a tenant I am highly upset because I had to read this in the paper. No one has told us anything.
Posted By: Steve A On: 3/17/2013
The place is a dump to begin with........raze it and clean it up.