There seems to be reason for cautious optimism about the Tipitina’s project in Commerce.
Mark Haslett: For those who don’t know, that’s the endeavor to put a music co-op in the old A.L. Day school building on the east side of town. That structure had been vacant and was falling apart. Tipitina’s is a music venue in New Orleans that also operates a charitable foundation. That foundation does a lot to promote the development of musical talent, particularly among young people. Tipitina’s has several co-ops around Louisiana where musicians can record, practice, store instruments, and produce audio. The plan to put one in Commerce began a while ago as the result of a quid pro quo agreement between the city government and a local who had accumulated some hefty fines for illegal dumping. That was in 2013. The project began in 2014, and then stopped. Commerce Mayor Wyman Williams says that the city and Tipitina’s have both agreed to pick up the thread and resume where they left off.
Wyman Williams: Well since we last talked about the Tipitina’s story, some events have occurred that have been quite encouraging. Recently, all principals related to the issue had a meeting here in Commerce, and an agreement was reached to move forward. So the next step is for the Tipitina’s people to present a scope of work that is remaining on the existing building, and then come back to renegotiate on how we move forward. Both parties are fully committed to completing this project, and all issues that had come about to stop the project seem to be resolvable. I’m very encouraged about this.
Haslett: Why did the project stall?
Williams: I cannot tell you because I don’t know all the details. I just know that in 2014 work ceased on the project and it had been going quite smoothly. The investment on the exterior is obvious when you drive by. And this is the A.L. Day school building on Church Street. If you drive by, you’ll see that the exterior looks better than it has in many, many years. I have not yet seen the interior, but those who were at this meeting recently, did go and tour it. The reports I got that they were surprised by the amount of work that had occurred, so it’s not as far away from completion as I had thought previous to that meeting. And it encourages me when we get together and agree upon the process related to their scope of work. We’re going to see a good addition to our city.
Haslett: So, once Tipitina’s presents its plan to the city, we’ll see what happens next. The Tipitina’s project, like so many projects, would benefit from increased stability in Commerce city government. One central aspect of that is the city manager position, which is currently vacant. Williams says that the city intends to hire its city manager as soon as possible, with the first executive session reviewing the applicants scheduled for two weeks from today. For KETR News, this is Mark Haslett.