Rouzan library bond secured, Spinosa says

Rouzan developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa said Thursday he has secured a bond and met his obligation under an agreement with the city-parish related to construction of the long-delayed Rouzan Branch Library.

In November, the library board gave Spinosa and his company, 2590 Associates, a deadline of Feb. 15 to either have completed the infrastructure at the site needed for the project or secured a bond that will ensure he will do so.

“Now that we have met all of the obligations outlined in our agreement, we are excited to see the Library Board move forward,” Spinosa said in a written statement.

Spinosa said his company had documents that included the bond and financial information delivered to East Baton Rouge Parish Library Director Spencer Watts on Wednesday.

Watts said Thursday afternoon he had received the documents, but had not yet had time to review them.

“It is something we will have to look at and send to the attorneys,” Watts said. “I will ask the board what they want to do.”

Travis Woodard, president of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control, said if Spinosa has secured the bond, it is good news for the parish’s library system.

“I am very pleased that Mr. Spinosa has appeared to uphold his commitments and look forward to proceeding with the library,” Woodard said. “We will turn our focus to getting our drawings permitted and up for bid.”

Woodard cautioned that the information Spinosa provided to the library would have to be reviewed by the Parish Attorney’s Office before the Library Board would consider proceeding .

Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin, who has been handling the Rouzan project on behalf of the library, said he had not seen the documents yet and couldn’t comment.

The agenda for the next Library Board meeting, released Thursday, contained two items relating to Rouzan —for an update on the project’s status and for a vote on whether to continue or withdraw from the project.

Kelly Vastine, a spokeswoman for 2590, said Spinosa plans to attend Thursday’s meeting.

“If we are on the agenda, we will be there,” she said.

Vastine said construction of infrastructure has already begun.

“We have begun the Village Center infrastructure, which includes what will encompass the library,” she said.

Critics of the Rouzan library project have repeatedly called for the board to walk away from the project, saying it had dragged on too long and was never going to be completed.

Spinosa first approached the library board in 2005 about placing a branch on the site as part of the larger, mixed-use residential and commercial development that he is building on the site on Perkins Road, just southeast of College Drive. But numerous delays followed.

In 2010, Spinosa donated the land to build a library branch. But construction has been delayed by disputes over permits, traffic studies and who was responsible for each step of the construction.

In November, the Library Board was presented with a revised version of the project’s cooperative endeavor agreement. The revision set a deadline of Friday for Spinosa to either complete the construction of the project’s infrastructure — streets, sidewalks and a parking lot — or post a performance bond ensuring that he would do so.

At the time, some library board members said if the deadline weren’t met, the board should withdraw from the project altogether.

“I will make the motion at our February meeting to take whatever action is necessary,” Woodard said in November.