[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish Council increases investment in hospital plan

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Oct 7 07:43:29 EDT 2009

St. Bernard Parish Council increases investment in hospital plan
By Chris Kirkham
October 06, 2009, 11:03PM

The St. Bernard Parish Council voted Tuesday to move $6 million of its
federal long-term recovery money toward construction of a medical office
building for the parish's long-awaited 40-bed hospital, which has still not
begun construction.

The move came after a contentious debate about whether the council should
continue to pledge the bulk of its long-term recovery money to one project,
the hospital. Already the council has moved $35 million of the parish's
federal Community Development Block Grant money toward construction of the
hospital during the past year and a half.

Parish Councilman Wayne Landry has consistently pushed to build a medical
office building alongside the hospital to attract surgeons and specialists
to move to the parish.

Councilman Mike Ginart, however, took issue with the idea of continuing to
move money to the parish's hospital board without first clearing up details
such as who will manage the hospital.

"We're using already over a third of our (community development) funds on
this project, and it's an important project, but we can't keep gutting other
projects, " he said.

"You're asking me to vote on spending $6 million, but I don't have any
information on what's going to be our return on investment, " added
Councilman Ray Lauga. "I really would like to see some shovels in the ground
and get moving before we just keep throwing money at the problem."

The $6 million was originally earmarked to buy out and redevelop commercial
space in the long-blighted Village Square apartments in central Chalmette,
but the parish is instead using a separate pot of federal money to buy the
apartments and set the property aside as green space.

Several council members, including Ginart, at the time mentioned possibly
putting a fairgrounds on the site.

Landry took issue with the idea that other projects should be prioritized
ahead of the hospital.

"We're talking about whether it's our money, versus the hospital service
district's money, " Landry said. "I gotta tell you, I think the people of
this parish think that it's their money . . . I think we're doing a huge
disservice to this parish if we don't put together a hospital that has all
the components for survivability, which also includes a medical office

Landry said at the meeting that the hospital board, which he oversees, is
expected to receive construction blueprints for the project in December. The
hospital should be completed by 2011.

More information about the StBernard mailing list