The Downtown Development District Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to endorse Mayor-President Kip Holden’s $748.5 million public safety, infrastructure and economic development bond proposal.
Commissioner Derrell Cohoon said the Baton Rouge area, home to around 800,000 people, is now the largest population center in the state.
“We desperately need some infrastructure fixes to keep it going the way it is,” Cohoon said.
Holden has addressed the major concerns of two previous efforts to pass similar bond issues, including removing the most controversial proposal, the $225 million Alive riverfront entertainment component, Cohoon said.
The bond package has been broken into three parts:
PUBLIC SAFETY: $350 million, including a $151 million prison complex and $45 million juvenile services facility. During the meeting, William Daniel, who heads the city-parish Department of Public Works, described the latter as “an abomination.”
INFRASTRUCTURE: $366 million, including $195 million for 40 miles of drainage work and $79.5 million to replace around 75 of the worst bridges in the parish. Daniel said East Baton Rouge Parish has 305 bridges, the most of any parish in the state. Many of those bridges are in poor condition, and some of the bridges still have wooden support systems, he added.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: $32 million, which includes the second phase of the River Center’s expansion.
In other action, DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer said four businesses are either open or in the process of opening downtown.
The businesses are:
• Downtown Snack Bar & Internet Cafe, 981 France St.
The company will offer customers access to printers, fax machines and the Internet.
• Full Circle Communications, 635 Main St., Suite E.
The marketing and public relations firm now manages the communications efforts of the Baton Rouge Sewer System Overflow Program.
• Club Theory, a dance club at 602 Main St.
The club is expected to open in the next month or so.
• Reich Associates, a landscape architecture firm. It is relocating from East Boyd Drive to the historic Chambers House on East Boulevard. The new offices should open in August.