Photograph: New St. Landry Parish Courthouse Fire Escape. (Photograph by Layne Herpin.)
Entrances and streets around the St. Landry Parish Courthouse were spectacularly blocked for a lengthy period of time Wednesday morning as an exterior fire escape was added to an ongoing $2 million renovation project, according to parish president Jessie Bellard.
The stairwell, which arrived at the Courthouse in several sections, will be used Bellard said, to comply with state fire marshal concerns for the third-floor courtroom addition that is being constructed.
“We needed to have another exit for the courtroom, so we were required to add the fire escape. The other floors at the courthouse have two exits, but (the third floor) didn’t have one,” Bellard said in an interview.
Once the stairwell becomes functional, Bellard estimated that it would extend upward for nearly 60 feet.
While the fire escape made a dramatic entrance onto the Courthouse Square, the Courthouse has been part of several additional renovation projects, said Bellard.
Re-Roofing The Courthouse
Bellard said the parish is spending about $330,000 to replace the roofing tiles at the Courthouse.
“The roof is the only project that is being done with state money. Otherwise everything else that is being done will be paid for by federal (American Rescue Act) money. We are completing the final leg of the bid out (for the roof),” Bellard said.
Re-roofing the Courthouse means taking off the deteriorating tiles and replacing them with a roof made from a rubberized material that Bellard said contractors feel is more suited for the Louisiana weather, especially the heat.
Replacing the large number of Courthouse windows along with a reframing process should be finished perhaps during the next six to eight weeks, Bellard said.
The window frames have arrived and the glass for the numerous windows is being put in, said Bellard.
When completed Bellard said the window project undertaken by Guaranty Glass in Opelousas, will cost about $800,000.
Bellard said adding the new windows will help save the parish money, since heating bills especially on the north side of the Courthouse were becoming expensive.
Handicapped Entrance Ramp
Bellard said the renovation plans also include a $200,000 front entrance ramp that will assist physically handicapped individuals.
In recent years Bellard said the elevator used to transport handicapped persons to the basement and upper levels of the Courthouse has become unreliable.