GONZALES — The City Council awarded a $53,000 contract to a retired city recreation director this week to maintain the fields of Gonzales parks as part of a broader reorganization of its building and grounds program.
Gonzales officials said the change is coming with the acquisition last year of the old Ascension College property between East Ascension and East Railroad streets that the city plans to lease to the Office of Motor Vehicles, a church and one other tenant.
The city’s building and grounds director and crew, who currently maintain the city’s ball fields, will be in charge of maintaining those new buildings once ready for occupancy, and other city properties.
Meanwhile, D&D LLC, a firm owned by former city recreation Director Donnie Gautreau, will focus on maintaining only the city’s athletic fields.
Before the City Council on Monday morning, Mayor Barney Arceneaux cited growth in city government properties, including the need to maintain the old Ascension College property, the city Dog Park and other facilities.
“We felt like the time now was to go ahead and move forward and do this,” Arceneaux said.
The deal was praised by the council, which backed the contract unanimously Monday at City Hall. Councilman Terrance Irvin did ask Arceneaux if D&D would ensure that restrooms at Carver Park, which usually are locked, could be opened while people are playing at the park during the day.
“Yeah, I think we can do that,” Arceneaux said.
Though not raised in the meeting, the state ethics code bars former government officials from receiving a contract from their former employer for up to two years after their government service ends. But, in a separate interview, City Clerk Clay Stafford said Gautreau retired from the city of Gonzales more than a decade ago.
Those years he was maintaining the city fields while in government service, however, have not been forgotten.
Tim Babin, president of the Gonzales Dixie Boys Baseball League, welcomed the hiring of Gautreau in a separate interview this week.
“Well, he’d be a good one for it,” Babin said. “He’s got a lot of experience at it.”
Under the one-year contract starting July 1, D&D will oversee and maintain all fields, restrooms, press boxes, concession stands and “hard surfaces” at Tee Joe Park, Municipal Park, Bergeron-Gaudin Park, Carver Park and the Armory Baseball field.
Stafford told the council the deal includes tennis and basketball courts, while Arceneaux, when asked, said the contract also includes parking lot cleanup.
“We’re kind of excited about the potential of what we can do for the fields,” Stafford told the council about the deal.
In the interview, Stafford said revenue from the lease with the Office of Motor Vehicles should more than cover the cost of D&D’s contract. The city will earn $4.50 per transaction at the OMV. Based on past years’ experience, the lease should generate about $124,000 per year, Stafford said.
Renovation of the old Ascension College property has resumed after asbestos abatement recently was completed. The OMV currently is located on East Worthey Street in Gonzales.