Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2014 1:49 PM
Lauren Manary / American Presslmanary@americanpress.com
DERIDDER — Work on a temporary courthouse to house 36th District Judicial Court will be underway soon, with the Beauregard Parish Police Jury approving the low bid this week.
The panel’s building committee met Tuesday to give an update on the progress of the two-part project to renovate the nearly 100-year-old courthouse. Police jurors accepted a bid during the meeting to provide for the renovation of a former church to serve as the temporary courthouse while renovation on the old one is completed.
The renovation, which will be completed by Carlton Construction Co. Inc., will cost $195,900. The work, including bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, will take 60-90 days. The Police Jury will then have to move both courtrooms and the Beauregard clerk of court into the temporary building, while construction is completed on the courthouse.
The panel and the city of DeRidder have run into an impasse, however. According to Police Juror Llewellyn “Biscuit” Smith, the city is requiring the Police Jury to pay nearly $25,000 in permitting fees for the building despite having multiple inspectors already working with the governing body and its architect.
“Basically, to put it in a nutshell, the mayor (Ron Roberts) is saying no,” Smith said at the grounds committee meeting, after the Police Jury requested having the fees waived. “He thinks that we passed the tax, so therefore we have money.”
The Police Jury and the city have also battled over the issue of parking, with the city pushing for more than the panel had planned. Parish Administrator Bobby Hennigan said during the meeting that the Police Jury has no plans to put parking on the north side of the building and that the construction of the new courthouse may eat some spots on Stewart Street. Parking, he said, depends on “if the money is there.”
The Police Jury is also considering redoing sidewalks around the courthouse.