Of the $77 million in projects Gov. John Bel Edwards took out of Louisiana’s construction budget, just over $2.1 million would have funded a clubhouse at the National Golf Club of Louisiana in Westlake.
Westlake Mayor Bob Hardey said Monday that he learned of the money being stripped from the construction budget last week.
“I’m not very happy about it,” he said. “It didn’t really surprise me because the (state is) limited on their funds. The state’s broke; let’s face it.”
Hardey said Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, and Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff, convinced state lawmakers to put the clubhouse funding in House Bill 2 during the legislative session. Since Edwards removed the money through a line-item veto, Hardey said the city wants to fund the project without the state’s help.
“I’m not going to stop,” he said. “We will look at other ways to get it done. I guess the state doesn’t think it’s important to finish the project, but we do.”
Hardey said the state provided $6 million in capital outlay funding to build the golf course. However, he said, the state took out $1.6 million and told the city that a clubhouse was needed to render the project complete. The golf course was built in 2009. Hardey said a clubhouse is needed to increase play at the golf course and entice developers to build more homes in the area. Currently, he said, there are roughly 35 to 40 homes built.
Hardey said the city “was fortunate to get what we have” in terms of capital outlay dollars, including $1 million to fund an emergency response center that will house the city’s police department.
The facility will be named after Jim “Hawk” Herford, a long-time police chief for Westlake who died in 2011.
Hardey said the State Bond Commission must approve of the capital outlay money before the bonds can be sold. He said the project is “shovel-ready.” The city has to put up roughly $400,000 in matching funds.
“We want to get it out for bid, (and) we hope to break ground by October or November,” Hardey said. “This project has been in the works for years.”
Westlake is also getting $550,000 to pay for a new water well on Jones Street that will provide Sasol with additional water. Hardey said a bid for the project has already been approved. The well will tie into an existing filter system.
“Sasol continually wants more water, but we’re not going to allow them to tie in with any more water supplies,” Hardey said. “If we lose a well, the city would be compromised on the amount of water we can put out.”
Hardey said Sasol is putting up the $150,000 in matching funds for the project.