Commission approves Lamar-Dixon money

Wade McIntyre

The State Bond Commission on July 30 approved $39.2 million in funding for Baton Rouge area projects, including a $7.5 million loan the Ascension Parish Council will use to purchase the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

The bond money is contingent upon the commission’s receipt of an adopted  amended budget from the council.

The parish will now formally sign an agreement to purchase the expo center Aug. 12 at Lamar-Dixon, parish spokesperson Scott Rabalais said Monday.

The parish council in May approved purchasing the facility appraised at more than $50 million for $7.5 million.

Money for the buy is to come from a mix of state, federal, and private sources.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu announced Monday she has secured $700,000 promised toward purchase of the Lamar-Dixon through the 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

The expo-center qualified for the THUD bill because the facility is a contributor to the local economy by providing access to new and existing businesses which offer the opportunity for new job creation.

Most of the funding comes from a $19,370,563  Community Development Block Grant for hurricane recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Lamar-Dixon qualifies for the grant because of its importance as a staging area during hurricane recovery efforts in the area.

Parish President Tommy Martinez said about $4.5 million of the grant will go toward the Lamar-Dixon purchase.

The grant money is part of $24,316,690 that Gov. Bobby Jindal officially turned over to the parish last month during a presentation at St. Amant High School.