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JP Performing Arts Center still sits unfinished

Five years after construction began, the Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center still sits unfinished. The facility has been plagued with design problems and delayed over and over again. Now project completion may only be a year away, but that depends on whether the parish continues to get money from the state.

Work continues on the project that was only suppose to cost $26.5 million. That price tag has since ballooned to more than $47 million, the majority of it state money.

"There are other obligations within Jefferson Parish that the state needs to handle that I think are being neglected," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts.

Roberts plans to introduce a resolution asking the legislature not to continue sending money to the parish to fund the project, which initially projected to open in 2009.

"The main purpose behind my resolution is that I think we've waited too long on some of these projects, and we can't continue to have this be the only project that benefits from state dollars in Jefferson Parish," said Roberts.

"We're in between a rock in a hard place.  Again, we inherited this issue but we have to bring it to completion," said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

Young says he's hoping a funding resolution later this month will be what's needed to finally get the center open.

"It's a combination of a state-parish project. We went back to the legislature this past session, got a total of $6 million... $2.6 million, and $3.4 million adding up to $6 million. It's supposed to be coming up before the bond commission," said Young.

Young says he's working with the parish attorney, the project contractor and sub-contractors to try to put together what he calls a global resolution on the issue.

"We have a plan, it all depends on the bond commission," said Young. "We're trying to get it to a date of completion before the next calendar year. I mean, that's where we're going, that's what we're shooting for."

"When the last request for additional funding and additional revenue was made, we were assured that that was going to be the last request.  Now we're hearing rumblings that that's not going to be the last request," said Roberts.

Roberts will present his resolution at Wednesday's Jefferson Parish council meeting, and says it's possible that if the legislature zero's funding for the center, the parish administration may have to come up with another funding source to get the doors open. There's still no hard number on how much more money it will take to complete it, but the projected costs are around $10 million.

Young says at this point, there's no other option but to finish the Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center and get it open.

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