AMITE — The long-awaited widening of Club Deluxe Road on the south side of Hammond moved a bit closer to reality Monday when the Tangipahoa Parish Council agreed to purchase a right-of-way parcel from the operators of a group of apartments.
The council made the unanimous move on the advice of Baton Rouge lawyer Rusty McCay, a titles and real estate specialist who has worked with obtaining rights-of-way on Club Deluxe Road. McCay said he is satisfied the title to the land, owned by Hammond Housing 1994 Partners, is clear and the council should have no problems even though the title will be obtained without warranty.
The council had considered hiring a special attorney to examine whether or not title insurance should be purchased. McCay advised against the expense, insisting the title to the land, owned by an out-of-state group, is valid.
McCay also said that if the council hires additional legal help on the matter it would further delay the project.
Councilman Lionel Wells, who represents the Hammond area, said the project has been delayed long enough. Councilman Carlo Bruno pointed out that once the road is built, there is no way the property could be taken back even if the title is gained without warranty.
McCay said only two additional rights-of-way need to be secured for the project to move forward, adding that negotiations are underway with the parcel owners.
Parish President Gordon Burgess said in an interview he has been working on the widening project for about 10 years.
“It’s been one thing after another, and I am going to keep working on this as long as I am in office,” he said. Burgess, who has been the only parish president since the charter form of government was adopted in the late 1980s, chose not to run for re-election and his tenure as president will come to an end in January.
Club Deluxe Road is one of only two east-west corridors serving the south side of Hammond. The busy thoroughfare also has a direct link with North Oaks Medical Center. Also located on Club Deluxe are a Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s substation, the parish health unit and animal control center, and the area headquarters of Acadian Ambulance Service. Three roundabouts are under construction where Club Deluxe Road intersects with U.S. 51 South. The roundabouts are designed to relieve traffic backup problems on U.S. 51 at its intersection with Interstate 12.
Parish Finance Director Jeff McKneely said improvements to Club Deluxe will cost about $6.5 million. The road will be widened by installing culverts in ditches that line each side of the road.
Burgess said work on the project can begin as soon as the last rights-of-way are obtained, and that could come as early as 2016.