The East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission Wednesday approved a deal with a non-profit group that wants to build, staff and operate a large, air conditioned gym at Perkins Road Community Park.

“This is really a great project,” said BREC Assistant Superintendent Ted Jack.

The effort to get the gym built is being led by the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association, Inc. Jim Bernhard, president and chief executive officer of The Shaw Group, Inc., is a key member of the association that is seeking to build the gym.

The cost to build and equip the facility, which will be large enough for three basketball courts or five volleyball courts, is estimated at $5 million, Jack said.

Jack said the parks department is only required to put $1.5 million into the project under the cooperative endeavor agreement with the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association, Inc.

He said BREC’s money will be used mostly for site work and the new gym will be physically tied to an existing recreation center.

Gary Patureau, president of the Skate Park Association of Baton Rouge, spoke against the proposed location for the gym. He said it would be built on land needed to expand the existing skate park.

“I know money is driving this,” he said. “It’s almost a done deal. I know there is very little we can stop this train at this moment.”

The agreement calls for BREC to pay the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association a monthly stipend of $4,500 a month to cover the costs of its use of the gymnasium.

Any revenues generated from activities at the gymnasium, such as admission fees and concession sales, are to remain with the non-profit group but are subject to audit by BREC, according to the agreement.

The agreement specifies that basketball and volleyball programming will have a priority for scheduling of the gymnasium.

However, Jack said, the agreement also requires that approximately 30 percent of the available programming time be made available to BREC for its programs and activities.

Once built, he said, the gymnasium can be used for a variety of purposes such as BREC day camps, cheerleading competitions or activities targeted at seniors.

The non-profit group will staff, maintain and manage the gymnasium and will be responsible for paying all utility services, Jack said.

Plans call for the gymnasium to be completed and open for activities in February.