Police jury and City blame each other for Coliseum hold-up - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Police jury and City blame each other for Coliseum hold-up

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- What's the hold-up with the renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum?

It's been nearly two years since voters passed a tax to complete the $20 million project. But, to date, the Coliseum sits untouched.

News Channel 5's Brooke Buford wanted to know why. She found that the police jury and City are pointing fingers at each other.

Not much has changed since Rapides Parish voters passed a millage tax hike that promised to renovate the maintain the Rapides Parish Coliseum.

In fact, nothing has changed. The structure is untouched. And, the Rapides Parish police jury blames the City of Alexandria.

"I'd hate to speculate," said Joe Bishop, president of the police jury. "But, I don't know if the majority of the council and mayor were behind this project from the beginning."

When residents voted for the project, it promised updates to the Coliseum, Expo Hall and parking lot. But, the president of the police jury says the parking lot is what has the project stuck in place.

"The parking lot that we've been using for parking for 50 years is jointly owned by the police jury and City of Alexandria," said Bishop. "Now, the City says they do not want us to enhance the parking lot. We just want to do an overlay and put brand new lighting on the parking lot and improve it for the public and citizens of Rapides Parish."

The police jury claims the City is withholding the permit because it wants the police jury to buy the jointly-owned lot from them.

"We're getting so many questions from the public as to why isn't anything being done? When is it going to start? Everybody, when they see you in public, it's the first thing they ask you," said Jimbo Thiels, chairman of the Rapides Parish Coliseum Authority.

News Channel 5 reached out to the city council president, Chuck Fowler, for an on-camera interview to hear the city's side of the story. He declined.

We also reached out to the mayor's office. They turned down our interview as well, but gave us this statement:

"It is not true that the City is holding up permitting on the Coliseum Project," wrote Cynthia Jardon, public information officer for the City. "Zoning law requires that anytime there is more than one owner of a property, in order to use the property there must be a written agreement between the owners about said property's usage. There is no agreement between the City and the RPPJ as of yet. The City has approached them several times without response and in some instances a refusal to respond."

The City claims they're waiting on a report from the Department of Health and Hospitals from the police jury about health code changes to the interior. Until that's completed, they say the permit needs to wait.

The police jury says the DHH report is on its way. They're trying to be optimistic that the City will grant that permit soon.

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