Posted: Nov 28, 2012 6:37 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Nov 28, 2012 6:43 PM
An old hospital building in Arnaudville could be getting a new lease on life as a French immersion center. St. Luke's hospital, on Guidroz Street, has been vacant, with $1 million in taxes left over from when it was open. Both the St. Landry and St. Martin Police Juries created a taxing district in the 1960's to support the hospital that sits between the parishes.
St. Luke's Hospital opened in Arnaudville in 1967, but has been sitting vacant from about four years. Now, the building could reopen as a French immersion center at the request of the community.
"The community has come to both parish governments asking that we do what's necessary, in the form of ordinances, to dissolve the hospital district and to allow that building to be placed back into service," said St. Landry Parish President Bill Fontenot.
The idea is to promote, and develop, French heritage by holding classes and events. Christian Goudeau, a supporter of the project, says the French government has already pledged their support to include sending professionals to the center to train in the arts, language and culture.
"It's not going to be a cost on the parish coiffeurs and it will be a wonderful use of an existing facility that presently isn't being used for anything," said Goudeau.
He says it's estimated that for every dollar spent on this project, the parishes will see $12 returned. He says this is an opportunity for an immediate increase in wealth.
"It'll really have a tremendous impact, not only in Arnaudville, but in St. Landry Parish as well," said Goudeau. "It's really not an exaggeration to say this project will put Arnaudville and the parish on the cultural map on the United States."
Both the St. Landry, and St. Martin Parish councils introduced, and passed, the ordinance last week.
Next Tuesday, December 4, an open house will be held at the Arnaudville Civic Center starting at 6 PM to hear any questions the community may have. Then December 19, St. Landry Parish will hold an official public hearing. If approved, in both parishes, the St. Luke French Immersion Center could open as soon as January.