When will the new Calcasieu Coroner’s Office be built?
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - No space, sewage backups, a leaky roof - those are just some of the daily issues staff have had to deal with at the Calcasieu Coroner’s Office. Building a new Coroner’s Office has been on the books since 2015, but what’s the latest on the project?
“Originally, we met in 2015, it was going to be a year to a year and a half plan to design, develop, actually get a conceptual design of the new coroner’s office or forensic facility," Chief Investigator Charlie Hunter said in an interview in 2017.
Originally a funeral home, the Calcasieu Coroner’s Office has been renovated several times but has quickly outgrown the space; as the Coroner’s Office that provides forensic services for 10 parishes, that space is much needed.
Back in 2017, they planned on starting construction in late 2018, with the building scheduled to be completed in 2019. But as October 2018 rolled around, construction hadn’t started yet.
“Roof leaks, problems with the heating, and their air conditioning here because they’re so old. It’s just uh, it’s a cornucopia of things that need to be taken care of. So far, they’ve just been holding a carrot in front of us," Dr. Terry Welke, the Calcasieu Coroner said in an interview in 2018.
When 7News met with CPPJ last year, they said construction for the new building was set for June 2019, with construction to be finished by October 2020. But, as of right now, they have yet to break ground.
“When we’re going through projects, you know, you start out and have an idea of what you’re getting into, and then with every meeting and every iteration of drawings, your timeline and opinion of cost are updated," Dean Kelly, Director of Facility Management with CPPJ, says so far, they have completed the design phase and are finalizing construction plans before they go into the bid phase. “Our expectation would be to have the bid set ready sometime in the first quarter to review, get that back, then hopefully put the project on the market sometime in the second quarter.”
“Although we called it the Coroner’s Office in the beginning, that was the catalyst when we first started, it is connected to the crime lab now,” Kelly said. “As we were going through the previous phases, it was determined we needed to add a little more square footage. We also recently changed the name of the facility. It will now be called the Calcasieu Parish Forensic Center. It’s important to note in this facility, everything is specialized. It takes a while to get it done and get it done right.”
CPPJ says the preliminary cost of the new facility is 9$.8 million.
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