EBR library board presents Spinosa with list of demands

A resolution of the ongoing saga of the Rouzan Branch Library could be delayed another month.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control has provided Rouzan’s developer, J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa, with a list of additional demands before they will sign off on the agreement to build the long-delayed branch.

Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin, who is representing the city-parish in dealings with Spinosa, presented the demands in an email to the developer late Wednesday.

After the Library Board refused on May 16 to endorse the latest version of the agreement, Spinosa asked D’Aubin and the board to have all concerns to him by June 10. Spinosa said he wanted the time to clear all concerns before the board’s June 20 meeting.

D’Aubin said Wednesday email he expected the board to defer any action at the June 20 meeting.

“The board understands that it is highly unlikely that these matters will be resolved by the next board meeting,” D’Aubin wrote.

The new stipulations include a construction time line with 60-day increments for specific phases of the project. Spinosa is required to build streets, drainage, sewer and other infrastructure around the proposed library site, which he donated to the city-parish.

“Please note it is their intention to terminate this venture and move on to another prospect if the benchmarks are not met timely ,” D’Aubin’s email says.

Spinosa declined comment, but a spokesman questioned the board’s willingness to cooperate to move the Rouzan Library Branch forward.

“It seems every time we reach an agreement with them, they change their minds,” Jeff Wright said. “For supposedly being a cooperative endeavor, it feels like we are the only ones being asked to cooperate.”

Wright also said the construction time line could punish Spinosa for things that are out of his control.

“It doesn’t take into consideration rain, hurricanes, things completely outside the contractor’s control,” he said. “That’s going to be difficult to overcome.”

The board also wants Spinosa to confirm the location of a parking lot and a time line on a proposed parking garage, D’Aubin wrote in the email sent to the developer.

“There are some other issues to be addressed, but these hurdles must be cleared first,” the email says.

Board President Travis Woodard said Thursday that Spinosa could continue to build infrastructure around the site without an agreement.

“As he pointed out, he has several other suitors for the site,” he said, referring to Spinosa comments earlier this week about potential alternatives to a branch library. “So it sounds like it’s in his interest to keep building the infrastructure.”

Woodard said, however, recent progress on the site made him optimistic.

“We will continue to work on a deal that will get a library built on that site,” he said.