BAKER — The city has purchased three acres of land on Plank Road and Lavey Lane for $165,000 on which to build a park and ride and rapid transit facility, Baker Mayor Darnell Waites announced at the Baker Council meeting Tuesday night. 

The facility will be able to accommodate 200 vehicles and serve as a hub for the Capital Area Transit System as well as work with Uber and Lyft ridesharing companies, the mayor said.

He said Baker officials are working with East Baton Rouge Parish, CATS and the Capital Region Development Center on developing a design for the project and hope to begin construction within a year.

The proposed facility is part of a rapid transit project throughout East Baton Rouge Parish, though funding for the Baker portion is separate, he said.

Baker tapped its capital outlay budget to buy the land and city officials hope to use the money they paid for it as matching funds for a federal grant to fund the remainder of the project, Public Works Director Julie McCulloch said.

The entire cost of the project won’t be known until the planning phase is complete, she said.

Baker officials plan to meet with Capital Region Development Center later this month to begin discussing the design.

Ultimately, the facility will be mixed use, Waites said, containing not just the transit center, but also offices, restaurants and entertainment and green space to beautify the property and the area, he said.

Officials also are working to attract a company to build a hotel next to the facility, Waites said.

Baker's master plan includes transforming the section of Plank Road from the Baker Bridge to Lavey Lane into an economic development center for the city, with the transit center being the first piece.

The five to ten year master plan for Baker is ready to be presented to Baker Planning and Zoning and to the public in town hall meetings, after which it will be introduced as an ordinance for the Baker City Council to vote on, Waites said.

Approving the master plan as an ordinance will secure future funding to annex land around the city and pay for infrastructure improvements, and economic development projects. The goal is to increase tax revenue in the city by $5 million over five years, he said.

In other business:

  • The council voted unanimously to reappoint James Cross and Earl Doomes to the Baker Fire and Police Civil Service Board for three year terms.
  • Councilman Charles Vincent announced that an East Baton Rouge Parish-wide cleanup will take place on October 19. Baker residents will meet at Baker City Park on Groom Road at 7:15 a.m.
  • Councilwoman Glenda Bryant told the council that a farmer’s market will take place Saturday at the Baker City Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring food and other items for sale.
  • Councilwoman Doris Alexander reminded residents that Baker Treat Street will be held in Baker City Park on October 31, an event run by the Baker police and fire departments.
  • The council recognized the Delta Sigma Theta Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter and Twanna Harris, founder of the Butterfly Society, for their work in the community.