A recent fire marshal’s inspection revealing code violations has forced the closure of the west side of the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, including the gymnasium, recreation area and dining rooms. The closure begins Monday.
Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel said the closure was needed because of public health and safety issues and the Scotlandville facility may require thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades.
“I have reached out to several local agencies to assist us in improving safety conditions and preventing possible injuries by identifying and eliminating both actual and potential hazards,” Banks-Daniel said in a news release Friday afternoon.
The Friday announcement comes about two weeks after more than 70 people gathered at the facility to show support for longtime center Director Carl Slaughter and to call for the removal of Banks-Daniel from office.
Banks-Daniel, who was elected last year, has said she wants to make changes and improvements to the center, located in her council district. She also has questioned Slaughter’s leadership.
Slaughter, who has been the center’s director for more than 30 years, said Banks-Daniel is trying to fire him so she can put a crony of hers in the job.
Slaughter, who is on sick leave, said Friday that the closing is mostly due to a bad fire panel.
Slaughter said he specifically requested $2,700 to have the panel replaced earlier this year but Banks-Daniel denied the request.
Slaughter said Banks-Daniel then ordered Slaughter to rewrite a budget amendment request for $12,000 so she could spend $4,000 on a back-to-school giveaway, $4,000 on a Thanksgiving dinner and $4,000 on a Christmas toy giveaway.
Banks-Daniel did not return a phone call Friday afternoon.
Banks-Daniel said the Baton Rouge Primary Care Clinic and the east side offices of the building should have no significant disruption of services.
“Though this is another challenge we face, we anxiously look forward to completing all of the facility improvements and operations at the center. We ask our residents and patrons for their patience while these important infrastructure upgrades are taking place,” Banks-Daniel said in the release.
Due to the closure, the Jewel J. Newman Community Center Advisory Board Meeting will be moved to the Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Highway.
The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30.