City, parish, Chennault agree to buy land

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu Parish police jurors on Thursday approved splitting $1.7 million with two other local government entities to acquire

13 acres of property across from Sowela Technical Community College where a $20 million workforce training center will be


The Police Jury, the City of Lake Charles and the Chennault International Airport Authority will split the cost, with the

Police Jury paying its share using money from the parishwide gaming fund. The city and Chennault have already approved the


The $20 million building is being funded by state grant money and will help train workers for Sasol’s anticipated $21 billion

expansion at its Westlake facility.

“All of the parties involved felt it was a very good return on investment ... for future generations of workers that are going

to be needed for all this industrial expansion,” said Parish Administrator Bryan Beam.

The property is currently occupied by residents at the Chennault Mobile Village trailer park. Beam said he has met with Tarek

Polite, the parish’s human services director, on helping those residents move into other areas. He said the parish is also

looking at possibly using Community Development Block grant money to assist in the effort.

Beam said he has heard the Silver Lining Foundation — an Austin-based nonprofit organization — is also helping those residents

with moving.

District 12 Police Juror Ray Taylor asked parish staff which entity is responsible for cleaning the site once the trailers

are removed.

“That’s a good sum of money for this property,” Taylor said. “I’d hate to have to go in and foot the bill to clean it all


Allen Smith, the parish’s legal counsel, said he plans to meet Tuesday with a legal official representing Chennault to draw

up the purchase and sell agreement and discuss the cleanup issues.

The agreement calls for the state to eventually own the property. Beam said that Sowela will pay for operating and maintaining

the building once it’s finished.