Ascension council gets look at plans for new governmental complex

The Ascension Parish Council got a look Thursday at plans for a new parish government complex proposed for the former site of East Ascension Hospital.

The 33,480-square-foot, one-story contemporary building will have offices for the parish administration, planning and development, finance, human resources, other departments and the council secretary, architect David Mougeot told the council.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez has pitched the new building as a way to consolidate parish offices. The parish has offices in owed and leased space in locations across the east and west banks.

Mougeot said demolition of the old 80,000-square-foot hospital is about two to three weeks from substantial completion. Work began Oct. 1, parish officials have said.

Mougeot said bids for the new building will be opened Thursday, Feb. 27, and the project had interest from 16 general contractors during early meetings. Work is expected to last 10 months.

The council meets in the Ascension Parish Courthouse Annex at East Worthey Road and South Irma Boulevard in Gonzales. The courthouse is roughly diagonal to where the new complex will be on East Worthey.

The chambers, complete with audio and television equipment, multiple remotely operated cameras and a control room, were built in the mid-2000s and converted from an old courtroom.

Martinez told the council that the judges of the 23rd Judicial District are looking for another courtroom and would like to take over the chambers again.

“There’s a lot of steps that would need to be taken before they create another judgeship here,” Martinez said. “You know that may be three, four, five years down road.”

Both Councilmen Todd Lambert and Travis Turner asked whether large conference rooms planned in the complex could be used for council chambers.

Martinez and Mougeot said the conference rooms could be converted into the chambers but the building also is designed to be added on to and an addition could serve as the chambers also.

After the meeting, Mougeot declined to provide an estimated cost of construction ahead of the bid opening next week. The Parish Council has budgeted $5 million for construction. Parish government took hold of the funds when the hospital district dissolved in 2012.