Monday, June 01, 2009

New LRA Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 1, 2009
Media Contact:
Christina Stephens

Louisiana Recovery Authority
 225.603.3896

christina.stephens@la.gov


State of Louisiana Approves $5.3 Million for Revitalization of Lakefront Area in Lake Charles, Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony



BATON ROUGE, La. - A ceremonial groundbreaking was held today in Lake Charles to celebrate the state of Louisiana's approval of a $5.3 million project that will enhance the Lakefront Promenade and provide associated infrastructure improvements.
At the groundbreaking event, Louisiana Recovery Authority Deputy Director Robin Keegan said, "This project will act as a catalyst to promote increased interest and investment in the Downtown and Lakefront areas of Lake Charles. Using disaster recovery money to redevelop damaged commercial and recreational sites is a key strategy in promoting the return of those vital businesses and mixed-use venues that anchor our recovering communities."
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, "The Lakefront Development project was developed through the FEMA Recovery Planning Process and ranked as one of the most beneficial projects in terms of the redevelopment of the region. This initial phase is the first of many that will follow as the City works to remake the Lakefront-Downtown area in the wake of Hurricane Rita."
The state's approval allows the Downtown Development Authority to access federal Community Development Block Grant funds needed to implement the project. The funding comes from the Long Term Community Recovery Program, a $700 million pool of federal CDBG money set aside by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Office of Community Development to help local governments rebuild and implement long-term recovery plans.
When Hurricane Rita damaged the lakefront's boardwalk, hotel and casino, it wiped out a major recreational and economic venue that was enjoyed by local residents and visitors. This project will replace the blighted section of boardwalk along Bor du Lac Drive from South Lake Shore Drive to the North Civic Center Site, and will attract new investments to replace the revenue lost from the shuttered hotel and casino.
The $5,357,748 project includes the construction of multi-use walkways for access to both the lakefront and cultural events; underground electric service for streetscape lighting; earthwork berms as a buffer from the lake; turf, landscaping and irrigation systems; public seating areas including benches, seating walls, trash receptacles and shade islands; water drinking systems; way-finding and interpretive signage; up to six ornamental steel gateway entrances; up to 10 textured crosswalks; colored concrete pavers for disability access; refurbishing of existing handrail; approximately 45 wind-resistant palm trees; removal and replacement of damaged electrical hookups; and replacement of broken sidewalks.
In the associated infrastructure improvements, the project will fund construction of a new sewer pump station, sewer main and gravity sewer; and installation of a water main, fire hydrants, subsurface drainage and catch basins.
The state's LTCR program supports implementation of local governments' long-term recovery plans in the most heavily impacted communities in the state. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved LRA's request to reallocate $500 million in CDBG dollars to the program, bringing to $700 million the total amount of long-term recovery funding available to the parishes. Funds are distributed among the parishes through the LRA/Office of Community Development according to a formula based on estimated housing and infrastructure damages inflicted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In total, the LRA has allocated $18,391,496 of CDBG funding to Calcasieu Parish for LTCR projects.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.
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