DDA questions Park's scaled down version

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The proposed multi-million dollar Bord du Lac Park and Amphitheater project is now being scaled down to make budget. The news came at Monday night's Lake Charles Downtown Development Authority meeting.

Originally budgeted for $9,800,000, the park's entire budget has been slashed to $8,900,000. Phase 1 will cost $1,800,000 and includes the Children's Park and an additional $650,000 in donations to rebuild Millennium Park II. Phase II will finish the remaining elements of Bord du Lac Park and Amphitheater with a grand total of roughly $7,000,000.

"To stay on this new budget, keep in mind we are going to have some things to economize," said Randy Goodloe, architect.

"In terms of the Amphitheater itself what components were modified or reduced to try and get costs down," asked Jonald Walker, DDA Vice President.

"Scaling down some things we may even scale down the size of the stage area. There are many moving parts to this project that we are going to have to take a look at every little piece of it and just make some compromises," explained Goodloe.

But the DDA questions whether the reduced price tag will compromise the overall experience that was originally presented. With the Lake Charles City Council having the final say, the DDA doesn't want to have any regrets.

"We propose the City Council disposes. That's all we do is we recommend and they are the elected officials. Whatever they decide I'm with them 100% because it's their decision," said Rick Richard, DDA board member. "We ought to think of this as a one time opportunity to both in the grand scale that we deserve for the Lakefront and the city that is responsible to be able to do this. And I would love that if we are not going to get another chance at this... I would love to take out a campaign to make sure we put the money back in."

If the City Council decides not to move forward with the Amphitheater and park, then the adjacent Gill Street project will have to incur an additional $520,000 of work that was included in the other project. Gill Street's funding is dependent on a $1,700,000 hurricane recovery grant. If not used by December 30, 2011 the city loses the money.

"If the park stops here... then we will have more pavement to remove, we have to change drainage, we have to work on waterlines that we weren't having to work on before. We have to add street lighting that was going to be in the Amphitheater/Park project," explained Walt Jessen, Lake Charles City Engineer.

With that in mind, the DDA recommended the City Council reaffirm its commitment to Bord du Lac Park and the Amphitheater or prepare to pay the price with Gill Street.

The City Council will discuss and decide on whether to move forward with the project at this Wednesday's regular meeting.

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