Wildlife & Fisheries secretary: New building in LC would cost up - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Wildlife & Fisheries secretary: New building in LC would cost up to $8 million

(Source: Google Maps) (Source: Google Maps)

Could a new Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries building be in the works for the Lake Charles area?

 Louisiana's new Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary, Jack Montoucet, made a trip to Lake Charles on Monday to talk about the issue with local lawmakers.

The Wildlife and Fisheries building was built in 1969. It's small and inside, it's crowded. Montoucet said a new building and a new location is needed for a variety of reasons.

"We know the mayor has concerns about this property we lease from them and they've been asking us to turn that property back over to them. We felt it would be prudent for us to look at a new facility instead of pouring money into a facility not meeting the needs we need in this area," he said.

Montoucet said the state has property near the I-210 loop, and expects construction of a new building to run about $8 million, though only about $2 million would be state funding.

"We've been able to tap into some federal dollars that will also allow us to do an educational facility combined with our office which would really serve an awesome purpose," he said.

Mayor Randy Roach said the city has been working with the state to relocate the building for years.

“The city leased the Lakeshore Drive property to the Department (of Wildlife and Fisheries) in 1966 for $10 per year for purposes of locating a regional office in Lake Charles. In 1991, the city approached the department with the idea of relocating the facility. In 2004, the city renewed its relocation request in order to accommodate our revised plans for lakefront development. Since that time, the city and the department have been working on various relocation ideas. A corporate donor has provided 10 acres of land to the state for the purposes of building a new administrative building, and the state provided funding to design the new facility. Although there is no deadline for the project, both the city and the department would like to secure funding for the construction of the facility in the 2017 capital outlay bill,” said Roach.

Montoucet met with state lawmakers, who seem to support the new building. Montoucet said funding and cuts will continue to be an issue.

He said they need stability in their budget. That will happen when the legislature finds a consistent funding source.

Montoucet said the state constitution allows the governor to take five-percent of their funds dedicated by law.

"Last year, it cost us to the tune of about $4.2 million. This mid-year cut, which occurred not very long ago, they took another $380-something out of our artificial reef fund," he said. "Over the past eight years of the the previous administration, the artificial reef fund has been raided to the tune of $50 million.  That's money used to build oyster reefs, fishing reefs, all of those things that we need done in order to assure we have a healthy red snapper population; we have a healthy oyster population."

He said there are no immediate plans to increase the charge for any licenses or permit fees but admits they may have to revisit such measures in the future.

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