911 Center to move into new Livingston courthouse, provide added security

The Livingston Parish 911 Communications Center will move into the new Parish Courthouse following its completion in early October, parish officials agreed Thursday.

The move from its facility in Satsuma to a 3,500-square-foot space on the third floor of the new courthouse will allow the 911 center to upgrade its work space while offering added security for the new building, Sheriff Jason Ard said Thursday.

Ard, who serves on the 911 communications district board, said the 911 center personnel would be able to provide round-the-clock monitoring of security cameras planned for installation in the new courthouse building.

The security cameras are not included in the $19 million cost for the new courthouse, but the building’s design includes the infrastructure necessary for adding them, said Jay Labarre, of Labarre Associates.

Even without the cameras, the three-story, 110,000-square-foot building on Government Boulevard in Livingston will be a tremendous improvement in security over the current courthouse, Labarre said following a tour of the construction site Thursday.

The existing courthouse is a 54,000-square-foot maze of rooms and expansions cobbled together since the building’s initial construction in 1941.

Phillip Kern, Labarre’s vice president of architecture, said the new building’s layout will be much more intuitive for visitors, with courtrooms, restrooms, hallways, offices and other spaces located in the same place on each floor.

Employees will have a separate entrance while special holding areas have been designed to keep inmates from crossing paths with the public, Labarre said.

The building will include five courtrooms on three floors, a separate juror space to make sequestration more manageable, as well as office space for the Clerk of Court’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and judges’ chambers.

The project is being funded primarily through $17.2 million in revenue bonds backed by increased filing fees at the Clerk of Court’s Office.

The agencies occupying the building also agreed to contribute a total of $1.8 million, with each agency’s contribution being in proportion to the amount of space it will use.

The new building will be more energy efficient, lowering the parish’s heating and cooling costs per square foot, Labarre said.

After touring the construction site Thursday, Councilman Marshall Harris touted that efficiency and said the courthouse will be state-of-the-art.

“We tried to design it for the next 50 years so it won’t be obsolete by the time we move in,” Harris said.

Councilwoman Cindy Wale said, “This is something the parish has needed for a long time. It represents Livingston Parish, and we’re very proud of it.”