Roach promotes hotel plan ahead of election

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Eleven days are left before Lake Charles voters will decide on a proposition that will go a long way in deciding how the lakefront will appear in

the future.

The proposition, as it will read in the ballot box: “Can the City work with a developer to build a hotel at the Civic Center

and use the taxes from hotel operations to pay for a portion of the cost of the Hotel or other public improvements located

in the lakefront area?”

Mayor Randy Roach’s administration is banking on voters understanding the wording and allowing a private-public partnership

to be formed that will lead to the construction of a $19 million, 150-room Hyatt Place Hotel next to the Civic Center.

Administration officials are now in information-sharing mode as they try to explain specifics of the deal to voters.

During these formal and informal question-and-answer sessions, some in the public have voiced concern about the possibility

of losing parking and the ability to enjoy outdoor events on the Civic Center grounds if the hotel is constructed there.

During a press briefing at City Hall on Tuesday, Roach said future parking has been an unresolved problem ever since talk

of developing the lakefront was undertaken.

“The success of any development — a hotel or other commercial development — depends on adequate parking,” he said.

“Additional parking for special events

could be enhanced by establishing pedestrian corridors across Lakeshore

Drive and possibly

even parallel parking for special events along Lakeshore Drive,”

Roach said. “However, the best way to provide adequate parking

for any future development in the area is to build a parking

garage. If passed, this proposition could help us finance those

improvements.”

Regarding visual access to the lake, Roach said HRI Properties, the developer, is willing to make a decision on where the

hotel will be placed, with input from City Hall.

“They plan to come to Contraband Days and other events to get a feel for what is needed. If this referendum passes, the issue

regarding the actual location of the hotel will have to be negotiated and approved by the City Council,” Roach said.

City Councilman John Ieyoub attended the briefing and said his colleagues are interested in the outcome of the vote before

they start dealing with any details associated with the development.

“If we get approval from the people, we will give serious considerations to all the concerns that have been raised. Every

step in the process will come before the City Council,” he said.

Ieyoub noted that the voices of “constituents” will be listened to by the City Council.

“Where the hotel ultimately will be positioned. What it looks like. How it will handle parking, and how it will complement

all current and future development on the lakefront. If it comes to that point, we will rely heavily on public input.”