“We’re hoping by next summer that we’ll be able to start this park. That’s what we would like to see.” Audrey Boudreaux, Project Kidz Kove
GONZALES — The walls, roof and just about everything else came down last week to make way for the future site of the Kidz Kove Discovery Park in Gonzales.
Contractors tore down a city-owned house at 605 E. Corner-view Road to prepare the site of the new park, city officials said. The house had been the meeting and storage spot for the Jambalaya Festival Association.
The park, which will be specially designed for children with developmental and physical disabilities, has been the focus of a major fundraising campaign since the first event in the fall of 2010.
“We’re hoping by next summer that we’ll be able to start this park. That’s what we would like to see,” Audrey Boudreaux, a member of the board of the nonprofit behind that campaign, Project Kidz Kove, said in an interview.
But she said the construction schedule depends on the group raising the additional funding.
Boudreaux said the group has a goal of $1 million, up after preliminary designs came back from an initial goal of $750,000.
Those plans, provided by Domain Design and Benchmark Group LLC, show a pirate ship-themed park.
Boudreaux said the costs for the park surface, for example, are almost as much as the equipment. She said bathrooms will also have to be specially designed to accommodate the children.
She said the group has raised about $600,000 and has a golf tournament planned on Sept. 27 at the Lakes course in Pelican Point.
“We were so excited to see the demolition take place at the Kidz Kove Discovery Park site,” she said in an email.
“It is so important to show our very generous donors this exciting progress.”
Mayor Barney Arceneaux said the city bid out the demolition job several weeks ago but waited after the Jambalaya Festival to start the work, which cost about $5,000.
Once built, the park, which will also run along South Francois Avenue, will be next to the new city police station now under construction and the future home of the Jambalaya Festival Association.
Under the proposal, the city will own and maintain the park after it is built, Boudreaux said.
Wally Taillon, president of the Jambalaya Festival Association, said the group had hoped to get dirt from the police station project to raise the elevation of the festival association’s new building site by 3 feet, matching the level of the police station.
The association bought the quarter-acre lot from the city in March for $15,000.
But Taillon said he has learned no dirt will be available and is in the process of seeking bids.
Once the dirt is in place, Taillon said, the group will seek bids to build the 5,600-square-foot building. He said plans are ready.
Until then, Taillon said, the group will have meetings at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and is renting storage units for its equipment and supplies. Some association members are also storing items.
Taillon said the group is seeking sponsorships for its building also.
He said he did not have a timeline but hoped to have the building finished by the end of the year.
“Editor’s note: This story was changed on June 21, 2012 to correct Audrey Boudreaux’s title.”