Two Rouzan sites draw most interest
There are now three sites vying to become the location for the East Baton Rouge Parish library system’s newest branch in south Baton Rouge, and two are part of the proposed Rouzan development off Perkins Road.
The difference between the two Rouzan properties?
One site would cost taxpayers $2.5 million while the other already has been donated to the city-parish.
The third proposed site is on Kenilworth Parkway and is part of the Pennington Biomedical Research center complex.
The Library Board of Control met in special session Thursday to narrow a list of seven potential sites for the new branch and managed to whittle the list down to two: the Pennington parcel and land owned by Rouzan developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa.
Spinosa already had donated land in his proposed Rouzan development to the city-parish for the library branch in 2010.
Spinosa and the city-parish have a cooperative endeavor agreement, but the project has been stalled by disputes over permits, traffic studies and who was responsible for each step in the construction process.
During Thursday’s meeting, board President Travis Woodard said he has driven by the Rouzan site several times in the past several weeks but hasn’t seen any activity at the proposed mixed use development.
Spinosa and Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin, who represents the Library Board, were working on revisions to the cooperative endeavor agreement but that process was put on hold while the board searched for alternate sites.
Neither Spinosa nor any of his representatives were at Thursday’s meeting.
The board spent most of the meeting discussing the two proposed alternate sites for the new library branch.
Some board members preferred one site, while others preferred the other.
The first alternate site, owned by Spinosa, is a 3.17-acre parcel to the east of the development near Perkins Road and has an asking price of $2.5 million.
Board member Stanford Bardwell said he strongly opposes pursuing the 3.17 acres at Rouzan.
“To me, it’s not an option,” Bardwell told the board. “With a price anywhere near $2 million it would be irresponsible to use taxpayer money to buy the land when we have free property 200 to 300 yards away.”
Woodard said he preferred the Spinosa alternate site to the Pennington parcel because of potential site costs related to elevation and flood problems.
Woodard also said he thought Kenilworth residents might be against the library location because of traffic and congestion.
Board member Chip Boyles disagreed with Woodard about the reaction of Kenilworth residents, saying he thought the library would be an asset to the community that neighbors would support.
The unknowns associated with the Pennington property gave all the board members pause, since there is not an asking price for the land or a specific disclosure of the acreage for sale.
Library Board Director Spencer Watts said he plans to meet with Pennington officials next week to get more details about the land.
The board voted to defer for two weeks, until the next board meeting, any action to obtain appraisals or take other action toward the purchase of a site.