The Lafayette Parish Government building in Downtown Lafayette is becoming more accessible for those with disabilities.
Last week during the Lafayette City-Parish Council budget hearings, Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux announced construction is set to begin within the coming weeks.
The money is coming from the Tax Assessor’s budget for the upgrades at 1010 Lafayette St. Comeaux says phase one will cost roughly $100,000. Contractors will fix the sidewalk in front of the building and nearby ramps.
“It’s a significant amount and we’ve all heard parish government does not have any money, but the problem is a lot of senior citizens and handicap individuals access my office all the time,” said Comeaux.
The money is coming from a millage citizens pay for the operation of Comeaux’s office. He says he wants to use that surplus for the taxpayers’ benefit.
“It just so happens that I have enough extra money that I can afford to do this at this point,” Comeaux said. “It might not have been the case a few years ago and that’s why I didn’t do the project sooner. Now, I have a little bit of extra money so I can spend it on that to help people accessing this building.”
For more than a year, the League of Women Voters has appealed to the council to address the accessibility for those who use the building for early voting.
“Progress is a step in the right direction,” said Kathleen Espinoza, League of Women Voters volunteer.
League officials say the line of voters wrapped down the stairs and outside during the 2016 presidential election which posed challenges to the disabled and those with health issues. Aside from the upgrades on Lafayette Street, the League would like to see additional early voting sites.
“At this point, I don’t think the finances which the League presented to the Council to increase early voting sites is insurmountable,” said Espinoza.
Phase one of construction should be complete by November. As for phase two, it includes upgrades to nearby handicap parking and that construction could start as soon as next year.