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City Council to look for assistance for Project Kidz Kove

Monday night’s City of Gonzales Council meeting saw members of the Board of Directors for Project Kidz Kove show up in strength to request city assistance with funding. Leslie Ickes, who spoke on behalf of the organization, pointed out the importance of the all-inclusive park in the community and the ease it would bring to the many parents who would utilize it.

“There are over 500 kids with physical disabilities in this parish,” she said “and another 1,500 with developmental delays. Currently parents are driving their children to Mandeville solely so their children have the opportunity to play. This park opens up doors for those parents, and will see income generated for the city by those parents using area restaurants and shopping facilities.”

The group presented their balance sheet, which showed that $726,014.85 has been raised in a little over two years. The estimated cost for the completed project is $957,451.68. Essentially, although not asking for the entire amount, the group is looking for assistance with the remaining $231, 436.83. Upon completion, the park will be an area built for those with special needs in mind, incorporating surfaces and equipment that better suits their needs.

Ickes 11 year-old son, Luke, was in attendance and asked if he could say a few words. Luke is a special needs child who spends a majority of time in a wheelchair.

“I’m  excited because it’s a place I can go and not feel left out,” he said. “I don’t want to wait until I’m sixteen for it to be ready. I just want to feel normal and I can there.”

Councilman Kirk Boudreaux was in full support of plans to assist the park financially. The group will hand the park over to the city upon completion, so much like Jambalaya Park, it will be a city resource for resident enjoyment.

“I would love to see this as part of the city,” he said. “I think it would be a great asset.”

Councilman Kenny Matassa agreed.

“I think we should do whatever we can to help with this park. It’s the ultimate quality fo life right here in Gonzales,” he said.

Some confusion became evident when Councilman Timothy Vessel made reference to not agreeing with the assistance in funding.

“If we give it to you, we would have to give it to everyone, like the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts.”

City Attorney Ryland Percy pointed out, that in fact giving to other organizations is not categorized the same, as the City would retain ownership of the park.

‘The City still owns the land. The park would be an asset to the City. It would be like someone went out and raised the funds themselves and built a park for the city,” said Percy.

Vessel’s reiteration of the group being classified as the same as any other group asking for money was strengthened when he stated,

“There’s no difference. I don’t think us giving money would be appropriate.”

Mayor Barney Arceneaux ended the discussion by stating that hearings would be held in March for the yearly budget.

“We’ll take a hard look at figures and do whatever we can do,” he said.

In other Council news, an approval was made for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention to hold a walk in Jambalaya Park on October 5. The group serves to educate people on the facts around suicide. Speaker Jamie Savoy discussed their mission.

“We want people to know the facts and statistics, and hopefully save some lives along the way.”

City of Gonzales Planning and Zoning Commissioner Terry Richey was also on hand as the council discussed the Master Growth Plan. The Plan was created nearly 20 years ago, and he discussed the value of making amendments to the existing one, rather than creating a new one.

“It’ll take a year or so to create a new one, at a cost to the city,” he said. “It would save time and money to adopt amendments or an appendix.”

The Council agreed to take that forward, as the initial plan states that changes can be made.

Alvin Broussard’s Public Works report highlighted that rain has hindered the work currently being done on area baseball fields. He is hoping that as the rain begins to let up, that work can be completed sometime next week. He also spoke on behalf of the Engineering Department and stated that the laying of blacktop in Fairwood Subdivision would begin this week, with each road being completed one at a time.

The meeting ended with Mayor Arceneaux highlighting the Building Department in his Mayor’s Minute. He announced that from January 1 – December 31, 17 commercial permits and 49 residential permits had been granted. The projects have been for over $30 million in new construction, all within city limits.