Sorrento community center plan progressing

The conceptual plan for the town’s new community center is moving forward and officials say the building could be completed by this fall.

That news came during a presentation to the Town Council on Tuesday by Martha Collins, grants officer for Ascension Parish.

The community center, which will double as an emergency command headquarters for the town during inclement weather, “is in the final stages of design,” Collins said.

Once federal Community Development Block Grant officials give approval for the center’s final design, Collins said, the center’s construction contract will be put out for bid.

Any money left over from a separate $500,000 federal hurricane recovery grant to clear sludge from the town’s sewer ponds will be rolled over to cover any additional community center construction expenses, Collins said.

Collins also presented the center’s proposed design to the Town Council.

The 4,798-square-foot community center will be located near Main and Braud streets and feature a large multi-purpose room, men’s and women’s restrooms, a lobby, a kitchen and a covered rear area.

Town Clerk Fern Barnett asked Collins why the building’s kitchen had been reduced from 400-square-feet in a previous plan to 250-square-feet in the design Collins presented Tuesday.

Collins said there was not enough money to make the kitchen larger.

Councilman Randy Anny then said the facility will not be built to house a commercial kitchen or to host large events like wedding receptions.

Instead, the kitchen would be used to dispense food and supplies during emergencies, Anny said.

Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. suggested using money from the town’s recreation fund to make the kitchen larger but after a brief discussion, Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair motioned to accept the community center’s design as it was presented Tuesday.

Councilmen John Wright, Marvin Martin, Jason Adams, Anny and Vicknair unanimously supported the motion in a 5-0 vote.

In other council business Tuesday, after a 25-minute executive session, the council agreed in a 5-0 vote to accept a settlement between the town and maintenance supervisor Cornelius Morris.

Town Attorney Donovan Hudson said after the meeting he could not yet divulge details of the settlement but said information would be made public after the settlement was finalized.

Morris filed an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint in June 2010 after former Mayor Blake LeBlanc fired him in January 2010.