AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council has authorized Parish President Gordon Burgess to seek bids to renovate the marble façade of the 48-year-old Parish Courthouse that has grown unsightly and discolored over the years.
Burgess estimated the cost of restoring the front of the building at about $200,000 and said funds will come from a state capital outlay grant.
Burgess noted that over the past several years the offices of the district attorney, assessor, clerk of court and registrar all have been refurbished, using several million dollars in state capital outlay funds.
The parish president said improving the courthouse has been an ongoing process, noting that more judges have been added over the years and that more courtrooms are needed. Burgess said the parish has acquired the old Welfare Services Office and plans are being drawn up to eventually renovate that building to add courtrooms for the juvenile court.
“This is going to cost us about a million dollars, and it’s money that we just don’t have at this time,” he said.
The council is expected to accept the lowest bid for reworking the courthouse face at its next meeting.
In an unrelated matter, the council directed Burgess to send a letter to the state Department of Transportation and Development requesting that improvements be made to the Canadian National Railroad crossing at Bonfiglio Lane near Tickfaw where a new manufacturing plant is under construction.
Councilman Carlo Bruno said the existing crossing is barely 10 feet wide and in serious disrepair. Bruno said a trucking company plans to locate at the site once the plastics manufacturing plant is complete and added that 18-wheeled vehicles will have difficulty using the crossing.
“Last year, when DOTD closed three crossings, an action that was bitterly fought by Tangipahoa Parish residents, DOTD promised that existing crossings would be improved, and nothing has been done. We desperately need their help in getting this crossing replaced,” Bruno said.
Parish Director of Public Works Nace Garafola said widening and rebuilding the crossing would cost between $60,000 to $80,000, money the parish doesn’t have budgeted. Burgess said it’s the responsibility of DOTD to make those improvements.
“This is a matter of public safety and economic development and we need the state’s help,” Burgess said.
MKS Plastics announced last year it was locating the plant in Tickfaw on Bonfiglio Lane. The company plans to hire about 40 full-time workers when construction of the plant is completed later this year, Bruno said.