The New Iberia City Council unanimously voted to begin the process of creating a new economic district that would go toward giving the Louisiana PepperPlex a new source of funding at Tuesday’s meeting.
The introductory ordinance is the first step for the creation of Economic Development District No. 3, which will comprise several prominent retail businesses and create income to be used on the PepperPlex.
Mayor Freddie DeCourt said that if the district is approved at a future meeting, the new funds for the sports complex will be used to float a $3 million bond sometime around January of next year.
However, the mayor said he and the council will be hiring engineers and architects shortly after final adoption so that most of the preparatory work will be done once the bond is floated and construction work can begin early next year.
“Having the economic development district allows us to generate funds and do a lot of things,” DeCourt said. “I’m especially excited about what it could do for our kids, and how it could change the way our Parks and Recreation Department operates.”
The council chambers were filled with PepperPlex supporters who said the new source of income was desperately needed for the facility.
“I am here not only to show my support, but to beg you,” local resident and Iberia On Tap President Wess Robison said. “I’m very passionate about what this could do for our community.”
Should the district be created, improvements to the sports facility will include paving and driveway work for $200,000; turfing the six baseball/softball infields for $125,000 per field; $100,000 in dirt work for drainage; $150,000 to install sidewalks; $75,000 for batting cage improvements; $30,000 for signage; $500,000 for a new concession stand and restrooms; $50,000 for landscaping; $200,000 for lighting the large field; $60,000 to resurface the soccer field; and $85,000 to light the soccer field.
Installing gates, hiring architects and hiring engineers are other projects associated with the refurbishment. DeCourt said he plans to hire a fulltime employee to handle operations and maintenance to keep the PepperPlex in good shape, and transportation for youth from all over the city is also being planned in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department.
“I think we have enough money to pull this off. It’s a pretty well rounded plan,” DeCourt said.
The council was enthusiastic about the proposal, with Mayor Pro Tem Ricky Gonsoulin saying the project was an investment that could create values in home sales, more tax revenue for local businesses, civic engagement and improve public health.
“A ‘yes’ vote tonight does all of those things plus more,” Gonsoulin said. “I don’t have to prove it to you, just look down the road.”
The ordinance will come back to the council for final adoption at the next meeting.
In other business, the council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance issuing the sale of a $12.5 million road bond.
Bond agent Jason Akers said the ordinance was the second step in a three step process for the city’s road bond project, which will be used to repair several roads throughout the city.
Akers said that after talking to the State Bond Commission he is confident that the city will be presented a good bond rating later in the month.
“This is a great time to be out in the bond market,” Akers said.
The council will likely make the final sale of the bond later in the month.