OUR OPINION: The slow death of Lamar-Dixon

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center is dying a slow death before our eyes.

We think the closure of the facility on June 30 will be a great business, cultural and political tragedy.

If the old saying “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” is true, letting Lamar-Dixon get away from the parish and sending it to an uncertain fate looks like a huge mistake.

While voters chose not to fund the Ascension Parish purchase of the facility in an election last year, it unlikely that any election involving taxpayer funding would have fared well in the current economic climate.

Had the Lamar-Dixon question been placed before voters years earlier when the economy was good, we believe a public with information about the center’s contributions to the parish would have voted in its favor.

But that was yesterday.

Now, Lamar-Dixon is about to close and is up for sale.

One thing is certain. Lamar-Dixon will be in the parish for a long time to come.

If it is sold to a buyer who wrangles concessions from the Lamar-Dixon Foundation that would allow for further development of the existing buildings on the 100-acre site, the look of the expo center and the ways it can be used may change.

Will there ever be a hotel on the site? A skatepark? Bicycle and rollerblading byways? Restaurants? An amphitheater?

Or will Lamar-Dixon retain its agricultural and exhibition roots?

We like it the way it is, but fusion is the American Way. We could, for instance, see a skatepark somewhere on the 100-acre site.

Whatever happens, the parish, and the citizens of Ascension will likely have little say in what happens. If you aren’t willing to spend roughly $7.5 million to buy a facility appraised at well over $50 million, maybe you don’t deserve much say in the matter.

If those knowledgeable about the recreational, tourism and cultural benefits that Lamar-Dixon offers the parish step up to the plate, perhaps there can still be some parish and area input into the ultimate fate of the facility.

We’d love to see that happen before it is too late.