Parking woes at Central School Arts and Humanities Center will become a memory if Lake Charles city officials get their way. A meeting involving Mayor Randy Roach’s administration and the arts council, Friends of Central School and the Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled for today to allow the parties to discuss a parking plan. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, September 22, 2012 5:38 PM
Lake Charles officials are going to seek advice from an arborist before moving ahead with plans to spend about $50,000 to construct additional parking at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center.
Thursday morning, city officials met with representatives of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Friends of Central School and the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana to discuss the project.
City Administrator John Cardone said concerns about the oak trees on the center’s property were expressed by everyone who attended the meeting.
“And it was agreed that an arborist be brought in and help us ensure the trees are not harmed. Then we can move forward,” he said.
Jude Benoit, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, attended the meeting and said one of the main concerns that needs to be addressed is keeping motorists from parking on tree roots.
“That is a big part of the problem. We discussed roping off the property’s perimeter,” he said.
City officials initially planned for the construction of an 18-space parking lot. But after the meeting, Cardone said 14 spaces may be built. “And all of the parking will be behind the school,” he said.
Benoit supports the city’s plans and thinks the administration is proceeding in a way that shows respect to the school and trees.
“Everything they talked about is within historical commission guidelines and city guidelines,” he said.
Laura Leach, chairman of Friends of Central School, supports consulting an arborist to make sure the parking lot does not adversely affect the trees.
She said an arborist from LSU will be sought.
“We do need additional parking, but nobody wants to infringe on the oak trees. That is our primary concern. There is a need to make sure the trees are protected, and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens,” she said.
Leach agreed that additional parking spaces are needed at the school, which houses more than 15 tenants and hosts special events and government meetings.
Central School, 809 Kirby St., opened in 1912.