Gonzales park plan moves forward

A volunteer group that worked for more than three years to bring a park for special-needs children to the city could break ground on it in September.

The Gonzales City Council unanimously passed a $7.4 million 2013-14 capital outlay budget Monday that includes $200,000 in infrastructure work for Kidz Kove Discovery Park.

The city’s contribution, mostly in manpower and materials, will go toward the $975,000 total cost of building the park. The parish also pledged $50,000.

Project Kidz Kove, a local nonprofit agency, has raised the rest of the money through fundraising events.

The pirate-theme park will be on city property near the Police Department headquarters on East Cornerview Road.

Project Kidz Kove will donate the park facilities to the city, and the city will maintain the park under its recreation department.

The president of Project Kidz Kove, Stacey Bumpus, said the appropriation by the City Council, along with a $50,000 pledge by the Ascension Parish Council, and the money her group has raised puts the project at around $975,000.

“That’s absolutely where we need to be,” Bumpus said.

Bumpus said project officials will meet with the group’s architect Tuesday to make some final decisions on construction documents, then will seek out area building supply companies that might be willing to provide in-kind donations or discounts on materials for the park.

The group also will begin seeking volunteers who are interested in helping build the park, which will be the only one of its kind in the region.

“We would like this project to be a community-build project so the community and people who want to be involved can be,” Bumpus said.

CHAMBERS UPGRADE: City Clerk Clay Stafford unveiled three new big-screen televisions and other technological upgrades in City Hall’s council chambers.

The city spent approximately $50,000 to upgrade the room, including a new paint job, dais, desk, chairs, floor, podium and Jambalaya Festival-theme artwork on the walls.

“It really looks nice,” Mayor Barney Arceneaux said.

In addition to the fresh facelift, the chambers received new microphones that can record and amplify, and an 80-inch and two 60-inch television screens and a projector for showing maps and documents to the audience.

Stafford said he believes the projector and large screens will make it easier for people in the audience to follow along during meetings, and will be especially useful during next year’s budget hearings.

“It’ll be nice for certain times when you really wish people in the audience can see what you’re talking about,” Stafford said.