East Baton Rouge city-parish officials and developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa continue to meet to try to hammer out an agreement that will allow the Rouzan Branch Library project to go forward, officials said.
The two sides are trying to work out “details” connected to the proposed branch, East Baton Rouge Parish Library System Director Spencer Watts said.
Watts said he attended meetings last week and this week as the two sides attempted to come to an agreement before Thursday’s meeting of the Library Board of Control.
“Progress was made, but not as much as we’d hoped,” Watts said of Monday’s meeting.
Watts said last week that his primary goal in the discussions was to ensure that the library system was protected from any problems with the long-delayed development.
The key issue is the construction of drainage, streets and a parking lot around the proposed library. Because they sit outside the land donated for the library branch, Spinosa is responsible for their construction.
Rouzan, a planned mixed-use development, sits on a 120-acre plot near Perkins Road and Glasgow Avenue.
Spinosa donated the land on which the library is to be built to the city-parish in 2010.
In November, the board gave Spinosa a Feb. 15 deadline to have either completed the infrastructure or provided a subdivision bond ensuring its completion.
In February, Spinosa furnished a $209,000 performance bond, but Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin expressed concern that the bond amount wasn’t enough. He also said he was concerned that the city-parish did not have the right to call in the bond to complete the work in the event Spinosa defaults.
The board agreed to extend the deadline by 30 days so the issues could be worked out.
Last week, D’Aubin said Spinosa would need to provide at least a $300,000 bond.
Spinosa spokesman Jeff Wright said city-parish officials told Spinosa that the infrastructure would have to be built before the library could be constructed, which would negate the need for a bond.
“This wasn’t Tommy’s idea,” Wright said. “This was DPW’s (Department of Public Works) idea.”
But, Wright said, building the infrastructure would be easier for Spinosa.
“He was fine with that,” Wright said.
Construction of the infrastructure could take three to four months, he said.
Watts said Spinosa had been open and easy to work with.
“He’s made himself available, made every attempt to communicate,” Watts said. “All of that is positive.”
Watts said he believed all sides were working toward the same goal.
Watts said he will report on the negotiations to the Library Board on Thursday.
“It may be a surprise right up until 3:55 Thursday,” he said of the meeting scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Thursday. “It may be being worked on until then.”
The board, according to the terms of the agreement between the board and Spinosa, could vote to terminate the agreement or award a second 30-day extension.
Library Board President Travis Woodard said it was too early to say which way he might lean.
“I would have to see what kind of progress has been made,” he said.