EBR library board delays Rouzan vote

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON --  Rouzan developer Tommy Spinosa, left, speaks with Jeff Wright of Wright Feigley Communications after taking questions from members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board during a meeting at the BREC Administration Building in Baton Rouge Thursday.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Rouzan developer Tommy Spinosa, left, speaks with Jeff Wright of Wright Feigley Communications after taking questions from members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board during a meeting at the BREC Administration Building in Baton Rouge Thursday.

The board that oversees the East Baton Rouge Parish library system will wait one month before deciding whether to abandon its agreement with Rouzan developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa.

In a unanimous vote with one member absent, the Library Board of Control agreed to allow Spinosa and city-parish officials 30 days to resolve several issues with documents Spinosa submitted to the board last week.

Spinosa was supposed to have either procured a bond guaranteeing the construction of infrastructure around the proposed Rouzan branch library site by Feb. 15, or to have completed the infrastructure itself.

Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin said in his opinion, the documents submitted by Spinosa do not give the city-parish adequate protection from having to pay for part of the infrastructure itself.

“The purpose of the bond requirement in the cooperative endeavor agreement was to guarantee completion of the drainage, streets and a parking area necessary for the support of the library, at no cost to the library,” D’Aubin said.

Spinosa’s documents to the board show a $209,000 performance bond between his company, 2590 Associates, and the contractor for the project.

“The particular payment and performance bonds do not guarantee completion of the drainage, streets and parking area at no cost to the library,” D’Aubin told the board.

D’Aubin said he had checked with the bonding company to see if the bond could modified and is trying to confirm that the $209,000 would be sufficient to complete the work.

Additionally the bond does not allow for the library board to enforce it and is only in effect if Spinosa makes payments to the contractor, D’Aubin said.

“We want to be sure that the $209,000 being proposed is adequate to perform all the work that needs to be done,” D’Aubin said. He said he has requested an opinion from the city-parish’s engineers on whether it would be sufficient.

D’Aubin suggested Spinosa could be asked to place the estimated cost of the infrastructure in an escrow account so the library board would not be left in a vulnerable position if 2590 Associates were unable to continue with the project.

The entire issue is complicated by an unrelated problem with the development, D’Aubin said. A parking area shown on plans for the library is not part of the approved Rouzan development, he said.

That issue may have to go before the Planning Commission, which could delay a decision on the project until April, D’Aubin said.

Spinosa said there may be an administrative fix to the parking issue, which would allow it to be resolved quickly, Spinosa said.

Spinosa said after the meeting that he believes he has met the conditions of his agreement with the city-parish but would continue to work to resolve any differences.

“They have some legitimate questions they want answers to,” Spinosa said. “I believe they want to get this library built.”

The library board’s president, Travis Woodard, said he would have liked to have seen the matter resolved Thursday. However, he said, the discussion was fruitful and “significant progress was made” in identifying specific actions that need to be taken to get the library branch built.

He said he was optimistic that the remaining issues could be hammered out in 30 days.

D’Aubin agreed.

“I think 30 days should be sufficient” to resolve all but the parking lot issue, which could take longer, he said.