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Photograph: C-SLEIDD board members Rod Sias and Senic Baptiste discuss the Equine Center Proposed purchase. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

The Central-St. Landry Economic District Commission is continuing to proceed with a proposed $1.5 million purchase of the Guilbeau Road Equine Center by performing a complete facility appraisal and determining how to market the property if a final agreement with the current owners is reached.

Board members agreed on Thursday to begin an appraisal of the reception and meeting areas of the building in addition to the stalls and ancillary structures which are included in the purchase offer made last month to current stockholders who own and control the operation of the facility.

A final response for the purchase is expected from the Equine Center ownership sometime within the next several weeks, Board members have been told.

C-SLEIDD executive director Buddy Helton signed the C-SLEIDD purchase offer following the September meeting of the Board.

The purchase document, according to Helton, gives the Equine Center ownership group 60 days to respond to the offer which also includes assisting with the 2023 insurance costs and taxes for the facility.

On Thursday board members agreed that an inspection and appraisal of the property and buildings should be done as hastily as possible before purchase negotiations proceed too far.

Board members Senic Batiste and Rod Sias detailed a number of issues that they think the Board should consider before finalizing any purchase.

“We need to look at a number of things, like whether there should be someone there, managing it, in addition to the legal feels and insurance,” Batiste said during his presentation.

Most importantly, said Batiste, is developing a business plan for the facility, which is being used primarily for social and political events as well as equine sales.

“We need to look for ways that we can realize a return for our investment. What are the timelines that we are going to set? Then there is an exit plan. What are we going to do when we get off the property?” asked Batiste.

Batiste emphasized that having a plan for the property is essential.

“What’s going to be our plan? Right now, it’s a horse facility. How is (the facility) going to make money? What type of jobs are going to be there? How much money can it make?” Batiste asked.

Helton has said during previous C-SLEIDD meetings, that a projected business plan for the building will be determined before the Board decides whether it wants to make a final determination about agreeing to purchase the facility.

If the Board has any reservations about buying the Equine Center or if negotiations falter, Helton emphasized at the September meeting that the offer could be canceled.

Following the September meeting, Helton said he is still optimistic about purchasing the facility.

Earlier this year C-SLEIDD paid $1.2 million for approximately 23 acres of adjacent property which could be either redeveloped or purchased, Helton said.