GONZALES — Jambalaya Park will be closed starting Nov. 1 while the city removes the last pungent vestige of its past as a wastewater treatment plant, city officials said.
Workers will take advantage of the closure to repair a washed-out stretch of bulkhead along Bayou Francois, said Jackie Baumann, chief engineer for the city.
The city built a new wastewater treatment plant 12 years ago, Baumann said, and constructed the amphitheater, municipal pool, sprayground, koi pond and fountain in its place.
Only lift station No. 40 was left intact after the conversion, she said, because all the city’s wastewater still passed through en route to the new treatment plant, built on La. 44 between La. 30 and Interstate 10.
During the past few months, the city rerouted that flow to a newer, bigger pump station on the opposite side of Cornerview Road, she said. The project was part of a larger, $4 million city-wide sewer rehabilitation job, and cleared the way for removal of the old station.
“It smells awful, it’s blocking the view of the pool house, and it’s really just an eyesore,” said Baumann, but the project turned out to be far more complex than a simple demolition.
Since it was the only building still standing, Baumann said, all the electrical systems added on to the burgeoning park were routed to old No. 40.
“That includes the playground lights, the sprayground, the pumps for the pond and the fountain, the theater speakers, and the pool pump,” she said.
Next month’s project will reroute all the power boxes to one small room, fill and cap the remaining sewage tank, and dismantle the rest of the building.
“We’ve already pumped out the tank, and the electrical work will cost about $30,000,” she said. The city budgeted a total of $100,000 to complete the project, and plans to close the park for 30 days, but both numbers are conservatively large, she said.
“I doubt we will spend the whole budget,” she said. “I don’t think it will take the whole month, but we wanted to leave room for any surprises. We want to have everything done before the Christmas tree lighting in December,” she said.
No part of the park will be open to the public while the work is being done, she said. “It’s just too dangerous to have people wandering through there with electrical work going on, and all the lights will be off,” she said.
In addition, work crews will be taking advantage of the park’s closure to repair a failing bulkhead and a sinking sidewalk along Bayou Francois, city Public Works Director Alvin Broussard said.
“We’ll have a lot of construction equipment in the parking lot for that, too,” Baumann said.