Mardi Gras Boardwalk gets final council approval - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Mardi Gras Boardwalk gets final council approval

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

After two and half years of negotiating and fine tuning, company Mardi Gras Boardwalk and the City of Lake Charles entered into a purchase agreement for the old Harrah's property.

Mardi Gras Boardwalk has agreed to purchase the lakefront property for $4.4 million and the parking garage for an additional $165,000.  

In their proposal, Mardi Gras Boardwalk plans to build a $30 million mixed-use development with retail, restaurants and residential living. Under the contract, they would have to follow all smart code ordinances.

While there are still a lot of details to work out, one issue already taking center stage is the sound issue.

Mardi Gras Boardwalk is also proposing an outside entertainment amphitheater that would host large concerts. Some council members fear the loud music may be a problem for nearby residents.

The city's current sound ordinance is measured in decibels. Anything over 90 decibels is considered too loud. Mardi Gras Boardwalk originally requested a variance to go up to 110 decibels for their concerts. However, a recent test by the city was not well received by people living north of Interstate 10.

"People didn't realize this. We did these tests and we didn't tell people we did them. Nobody hollered when we did 90 decibels from the old Harrah's property. There's not one person who hollered when we did 90. When we did 100 and 110 is when they came out. And I agree that sucker was coming through at 110," said Dana Carl Jackson, Lake Charles City Council member.

"The River Road area was clearly disturbed. There were a lot of calls made from there. And we got calls all the way from 1st Avenue and even four miles down where I live we had complaints about the noise going down there," explained Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Council member.

Mardi Gras Boardwalk is now compromising, asking to not exceed 85 decibels.

"We are not going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars without having this body give us direction that tonight and hopefully, in the future, you are not going to change your mind. We need a ceiling to proceed. We need to understand. And the ceiling we are prepared to accept is 85 decibels, five decibels less than your current standard," said Charles Landry, of Mardi Gras Boardwalk.

Ultimately, the City of Lake Charles has the final say if sound becomes a problem even at 85 decibels.

"85 decibels. You come back and you've got to bring your design to us and if we find that is not sufficient you are alright if that doesn't happen? I mean, that's a lot of time and money," said Simien.

"Even at 85 you're going to get those calls from people who think the music is loud. It's not going to be ambient. The question is does this community want an amphitheater?," said Landry.

"I think it's more of a question does this community want to be able to sleep in their homes that they have invested in," said Simien.

Mardi Gras Boardwalk also agreed to do an acoustical engineering study during the design phase to mitigate the problem. With that, the City Council gave them a unanimous vote to purchase the property and proceed with the project.

"We understand that people who may be in the vicinity may have some issues with the sound. We are going to be sensitive to them and do everything we can to mitigate that," said Landry. "We have been working a long time on this project and are very happy to be at this point."

"We couldn't be happier to get this thing underway. It's been in the works for two and a half years and tonight they opened the starting gate and our real work begins," said Gary Dixon, of Mardi Gras Boardwalk.

The next phase is developing their Master Plan. Landry said that will take about eight months. Once the Master Plan is complete, they'll return to get the council's final approval. In terms of actual construction, they expect to begin in 18 to 20 months. Landry said the actual transfer of the land won't take place until 60 days before they are set to begin construction.

For more information, the group has activated their website: lakecharlesmardigrasboardwalk.com.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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